Reeths-Puffer caps football season with big victory over crosstown rival Mona Shores

By Shawn Liverance
Local Sports Journal

It was quite clear the message the Reeths-Puffer football wanted to send in Friday night’s season-ending game against crosstown rival Mona Shores.

“We wanted to make sure the seniors were sent out the right way,” said Reeths-Puffer tailback Johndries Betts-Render

Betts-Render, a senior, led by example as he rushed 28 times for 149 yards and a pair of scores and led Reeths-Puffer to a 34-21 win over visiting Mona Shores.

“We all talked about sending the seniors out the right way,” Betts-Render said. “We were able to do that in a big way tonight.”

The win avenged a 26-22 loss to the Sailors last season and that was not lost on fellow R-P senior Tyler Stenberg.

“The seniors did not want to be 0-2 against Mona Shores,” Stenberg said. “We accomplished that. I think there might be a few tears later one after this one.”

It didn’t take long for the Rockets to make a statement that they would end their season on a two-game winning streak.

R-P scored on its opening drive by marching 78 yards on 12 plays, which culminated in Betts-Render’s 1-yard scoring run.

After Joshua Buie intercepted a Mona Shores pass on the Sailors’ first possession of the game, Garrett Blanshine made it 14-0 Rockets on a 1-yard run of his own.

“We all know Mona Shores is a big rivalry game,” Betts-Render said. “We wanted to come out right away and play the way we knew we could.”

Having faced several spread offenses this season, the Rockets knew what to expect from the Sailors, but they couldn’t slow down Mona Shores’ high-speed offense in the second quarter.

After a bad R-P punt snap sailed out of the end zone to cut the Rockets lead to 14-2, the Sailors quickly capitalized by taking the free kick and marching 40 yards in eight plays to score their first touchdown.

Quarterback Tyree Jackson hit Asantay Brown on a 3-yard TD pass to cut the R-P lead to 14-8 and after a David Bloom fumble recovery, the Sailors needed only three plays to take the lead.

Jackson hooked up with Brown again, this time on a 35-yard scoring pass that gave Mona Shores its only lead of the night at 15-14.

“All year long we have faced spread offenses,” Reeths-Puffer coach Kyle Jewett said. “We thought that the contrasting styles would work to our advantage and it did eventually.”

Actually the Rockets used some spread offense of its own to take a 21-15 lead into halftime.

With less than 2 minutes left in the opening half, the Rockets used three pass completions from Blanshine to score when the junior quarterback connected with Marquese Livers on a 23-yard TD pass just before halftime.

The Rockets quickly went back to their bread and butter in the second half after Kris Johnson recovered a Sailors’ fumble on the opening drive of the second half, the Rockets made it 27-15 on Julian Munday’s 12-yard run.

Reeths-Puffer punctuated its dominance up front on its next drive after Kevin Polk recovered another Mona Shores fumble.

The Rockets took nearly 7 minutes off the clock on a 14-play drive that ended with Betts-Render’s 1-yard scoring run early in the final quarter, which gave Mona Shores a 34-15 lead.

“They are a big team that can run,” Mona Shores coach Mat Koziak said. “That long drive was really impressive. I thought we would be able to handle them better than we did.”

Five turnovers hurt the Sailors, which closed out the game’s scoring on Jackson’s 2-yard run in the final quarter.

“Hats off to Reeths-Puffer as they are an up-and-coming team” Koziak said. “Turnovers really killed us tonight. I feel for our seniors especially after getting off to such a great start to our season.”

The Sailors jumped out to a 4-1 start to the season and looked like they would qualify for the playoffs for the first time in school history, but a rough three-game stretch against the top three teams in the O-K Black derailed those thoughts.

“We got off to a great start,” Koziak said. “I think the kids were not used to getting talked about. We just have to learn to finish and that is what makes this disappointing.”

The Rockets, on the other hand, closed the season on a two-game winning streak and has Jewett looking forward to next season.

“I am very happy with the way the season ended,” Jewett said. “We overcame some obstacles, but it was great to see the guys show up in Week 9 and play as well as they did. I believe we got better every week and have some young kids coming back. I just wish we didn’t have to wait 300 some days to play another game.”

Offensively the Rockets  also received 86 yards rushing from Munday and Buie finished with 16 tackles to lead the defense.

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