EDITOR'S NOTE: The Swnews4u.com Athlete of the Week is a web-only feature that will publish each Thursday throughout the calendar year.
By A.J. Gates and Jason Nihles
Matthew Nies, Jr., QB, and Braden Crubel, Sr., WR/DB, River Ridge football
EAST DUBUQUE — The River Ridge varsity football team continued its undefeated season, as they improved to 3–0 in Six Rivers conference action and 7–0 overall with last Friday night’s 46–14 victory over host Southwestern/East Dubuque.
Coach Wade Winkers’ Timberwolves had little trouble with the WarCats, taking a 21–0 lead at the end of one quarter, and a 39–0 lead at the end of the first half.
By the time the game had come to a conclusion, the River Ridge football program saw two single-game school records set, junior Matthew Nies with 298 yards passing on 7-of-7 passing attempts, and senior Braden Crubel with 196 yards receiving on three receptions, all for touchdowns. The Timberwolves finished with 578 yards of total offense, gaining 280 yards on the ground with nine different players carrying the ball.
Using their speed, the Timberwolves jumped out to an early 14–0 lead with just over three minutes taken off the first-quarter clock. Crubel first scored from 69 yards out on a hitch-and-pitch that exploited the SW/ED defense, then hauled in a one-handed sideline catch that went for 84 yards, never breaking stride on his way to the end zone.
Before the first quarter had come to a close, River Ridge got a one-yard touchdown plunge from sophomore fullback Andrew Nies and an extra-point kick from Aidan Gage to take a 21–0 lead.Nies would score two more times in the second quarter, once from one-yard out and again from 17 yards, while the passing duo of Matthew Nies and Crubel connected again on a 41-yard TD pass later in the quarter.
Trailing 39–0, the WarCats got on the board with 3:13 to play in the third quarter, then again later in the fourth for their only two scores.
In the opening seconds of the fourth quarter, Matthew Nies added to River Ridge’s lead with a 41-yard touchdown run, followed by an extra-point kick by Gage.
Leading the ground game was Ricardo Barrita with 65 yards on six carries, followed by Andrew Nies with 56 yards on a team-high 13 carries, Matthew Nies with 51 yards on five carries and Brady Bunge with 48 yards on five carries.
“We were pretty balanced, where no one had more than 60 yards rushing, though we still had almost 300 yards on the ground,” said coach Winkers. “It was nice to mix it up and get some different kids some carries. It was a pretty explosive night overall. I was happy with the O’line play. They gave us a look that we hadn’t seen all year as far as the defensive front, and they blocked it well."
With River Ridge’s win over SW/ED, and Potosi/Cassville’s win over Black Hawk/Warren, it sets up a conference clash this Friday night at Patch Grove with the Six Rivers conference title on the line.
HONORABLE MENTION (in alphabetical order):
Mason Aide, Sr., Iowa–Grant boys cross country
Aide ran to a 7th place overall finish (out of 194 runners) and fourth in the small schools division with a time of 16:51.7, while sophomore teammate Bret Connolly finished fifth, to lead the Iowa–Grant boys to the small schools team title at last Saturday's 54th annual Dick McKichan Platteville Invitational. It was the Division 3 #1-ranked Panthers' eighth-straight team victory.
Riley Donahoe, Jr., RB/LB, Platteville football
Donahoe rushed for 167 yards and three touchdown on 21 carries, and recorded a team-high 13 tackles in Platteville's 34–21 SWC victory over Richland Center last Friday night.
Kolby Lancaster, Sr., QB/DB, Belmont football
Lancaster completed 11 of 16 passes for 91 yards and three touchdowns, and also ran 14 times for 121 yards and two more scores in Belmont's 57–12 Southern Conference West victory over North Crawford last Friday night.
Ella McKinley, S, Cuba City volleyball
Setter Ella McKinley conducted the Cubans’ offensive attack to a 5–0 first-place finish at last Saturday's eight-team Lodi Invitational, distributing 86 assists and also serving up five aces. She also had 22 assists in a 25–13, 25–8, 25–23 sweep of Boscobel last Thursday night.
Payton Millin, Sr., MH, River Ridge volleyball
Senior Payton Millin led the team with 17 kills, seven blocks and six aces to lead the undefeated Timberwolves (20–0, 10–0 Six Rivers West) to a 25–14, 25–10, 25–13 sweep of Cassville last Thursday night. Millin then had 27 kills, 8 digs, two blocks and two aces in a 25–19, 25–12, 20–25, 25–18 win over Benton Tuesday night.