Braves hit stride in blowout win


One week after earning a thrilling, last-minute, come-from-behind victory at Charlestown, Brownstown Central’s football team enjoyed a victory as cool as the night air Friday.

Scoring on their first nine possessions, the Braves (3-0) eased to a 54-8 win against Eastern (Pekin).

“We told the kids we felt we were the better football team, that they’ve got to come out aggressive and go after them,” Brownstown head coach Reed May said. “Eastern is getting better, but our kids did what they had to do.”

The Braves executed May’s orders nearly to perfection.

Under Eastern’s control, the football crossed the 50-yard line just twice in the first half — once on a punt and once on a forward pass that was intercepted by Gavin Bane and returned for a touchdown.

Thanks to an active defense, the Braves’ average starting position in the first two quarters was the Eastern 40-yard line.

“Even though we gave up 48 points to Charlestown last week, we feel like our defense is playing well,” May said, referring to the Braves’ tense 52-48 win last week. “We were flying around and doing what we needed to.”

Cameron Eggersman set the tone for Brownstown’s defense when he leveled Eastern quarterback Todd Branaman for a loss and forced a fumble that Braves lineman Lendon Underwood recovered.

Two possessions later, Bane intercepted Branaman at the Brownstown 44 and returned the ball for a touchdown. Two possessions after that, Caleb Bollinger recovered and returned an Eastern fumble 16 yards for another defensive touchdown.

Thanks to the defense’s effort, Brownstown’s offense didn’t have to strain to find the end zone. Senior Derek Rieckers made the most of his six touches, gaining 93 yards and scoring a game-high and personal-best three touchdowns.

Rieckers was one of a dozen Braves running backs to get a chance during Friday’s contest.

“When you get the ball, you’ve got to make the most of it,” Rieckers said of the competition for carries in Brownstown Central’s backfield.

Bane followed Rieckers with 76 yards and one TD on just three attempts. Carson Lambring and Hayden Kinsler also added rushing touchdowns.

With his team boasting an undefeated record and three tough games with Salem, North Harrison and Seymour fast approaching, Rieckers said the Braves aren’t taking any game lightly.

“We knew we had to come out (against Eastern) like we were playing Gibson Southern,” Rieckers said. “We can’t play down to our competition. We have to play to the level that we’re capable of.”