A suffocating defense, strong special teams and a grind-it-out offense with quick-strike capability.
What’s not to like about the Auburn Riverside football team?
By no means flawless for season openers, the Ravens wore down and subdued North Puget Sound League rival Auburn Mountainview 52-13 at Auburn Memorial Stadium on Friday night.
Auburn Riverside looks to retain the Fugate Trophy against Auburn next Friday night. The Ravens have worn the city series crown the past two seasons.
Auburn opened with a 48-6 loss at Tahoma on Friday night.
The stars came out for the Ravens.
Senior tailback and free safety Javon Forward ran for 99 yards and two touchdowns and returned an interception for a third score. Jayden Solis ran for one touchdown and returned a fumble 76 yards for another, and Arthur Tauiliili, a running back and strong safety who transferred from Foster, ran for one TD, set up by his own interception seven plays earlier.
“I love this team. I love that challenge. I wanted that challenge,” Tauiliili said of making the jump from a 2A to 4A program.
Auburn Riverside’s blitzing defense forced four turnovers, leading to 28 points, and delivered five sacks, three of which came from Cade Foster.
“It’s a great win,” said Ravens coach Marcus Yzaguirre. “As always, they’re well coached, and they are going to play hard. We just needed to impose our will early, and I felt like our kids did that. We just kept going, kept going, kept going. It’s fun when you have some weapons. … We were flying around, we were playing physical, and that’s what you have to do against a well coached team.”
AR’s dominating win left the Lions bruised and somewhat bewildered afterward.
“We weren’t ready for how physical they were,” said Lions coach Jared Gervais. “They’re a big, physical, talented team. They played really hard and they deserve to win. … We told the guys we have to learn from it. That’s all we can do. But Riverside is a helluva football team. Very, very impressed with what (their coaches) have done down there. We just have to try to get better.”
The Lions lost quarterback Drew Davenport to a knee injury late in the first half. Davenport was lost for the season with a right knee ACL tear in the fourth game last year. This time, the injury is to his left knee.
Junior running back Berkley Alfrey vaulted 21 yards up the middle late in the first half to keep the Lions close at the break, 17-7.
But AR sophomore quarterback Payton Acceturo, a Kentlake transfer, quickly restored the lead, drilling Lucas James over the middle for a 53-yard TD on the Ravens’ first from scrimmage in the third quarter.
Freshman backup quarterback Kayde Bodine responded, tossing a 4-yard TD to Cooper White late in the third quarter to pull the Lions to within 24-13.
The Ravens put the game away on Solis’ 10-yard TD run, Tauiliili’s 4-yard scoring smash and Forward’s 17-yard pick-6.
With the Lions driving late in the game, Foster sacked Bodine, forcing a fumble, and Solis, a 6-foot-2, 225-pounder with 4.7 speed, scooped up the loose ball and dashed 76 yards for the game’s punctuating touchdown.
“We applied all the pressure on them and see if they could take it. Obviously, they couldn’t,” Solis said afterward.
Forward was elated with the fact that everyone got into the scoring act. Emotion, the energy ran high.
“Felt good. It was a good team win,” he said. “We’re more of a family this year. We’ve bonded since our last game last year. We picked up new players, some transfers, and we’ve become a family. We’ve got each other’s back.”
Yellow flags flew in the game. The teams combined for 21 penalties for 216 yards, 13 of which came from AR for 140 yards.
Auburn Mountainview faces River Ridge in a nonleague game Thursday.
As for the Ravens, it’s another test from a neighbor, the Trojans.
“Rivalry games always bother me early because anything can happen,” Yzaguirre said. “We just have to play our brand of football, and it’s a physical brand of football.”