Rose Bud's White team scored on nine of 10 offensive possessions and held the Red team to only two first downs in the Ramblers' spring football game Friday at Rambler Stadium.
After misfiring on his first five pass attempts, dynamic duel-threat quarterback Christian Reynolds bounced back by completing eight straight. Reynolds finished 10-of-18 passing for 303 yards and 2 touchdowns, while also carrying 6 times for 221 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Powerful, yet stealth running back Cole Robertson added 10 totes for 140 yards and 3 touchdowns, receiver Tyler Weatherley collected 6 receptions for 219 yards and 1 touchdown and receiver Caleb Ferren caught 3 passes, totaling 86 yards and 1 touchdown. Ferren also ran 8 yards for a score.
“I thought offensively we were a little rusty at first but got smoother as we went on,” said Rose Bud Coach Steve Rose, who is entering his sixth season. “The offensive line played well but sometimes you kinda overlook them because when nobody is messing up, nobody gets called out. So I thought they played well.”
Robertson scored the game's first touchdown on a 20-yard sweep around right end. Reynolds then weaved around right side for a 17-yard touchdown on the White team's second possession.
The third score was set up by Weatherley, who came down with a 48-yard catch then an 11-yard reception, which set up Robertson's 1-yard touchdown run.
With only six snaps left in the first half, the White team only needed two to find pay dirt as Reynolds connected with Weatherley for 40 yards, then Reynolds hit Ferren on a flag route for a 30-yard touchdown.
Robertson gashed the Red team's defense on the opening drive of the second half, ripping off two consecutive runs of 30 yards, including a 30-yard touchdown jaunt in which he broke free from several defenders.
The White team scored again when Reynolds kept up the middle, shook a defender and split two more before racing to the end zone for an 80-yard touchdown.
Backed up on the 1-yard line, the White team posted another score when Reynolds hooked up with Weatherly over the top for an 85-yard touchdown.
Again starting from the 1-yard line, the Ramblers used seven plays to score, highlighted by Ferren's two receptions for a combined 56 yards. Ferren capped the drive with an 8-yard touchdown run around left end.
Rose Bud, which returns 17 starters from a team that missed the state playoffs by one game last year, appears ready for a breakout season.
“We had a good spring,” said Rose. “We taught some of our younger guys up to build depth, which is something we have to do. We've got a lot of players coming back so it was less teaching for them. We are trying to get the receivers timing down with Christian.”
One of Rose Bud's biggest tasks will be replacing All-2-3A Conference receivers Dillon Reesnes and Spencer Starkey. Weatherly and Ferren showed playmaking ability at Friday's scrimmage.
Page 2 of 2 - “Tyler had a good day,” said Rose. “I thought he caught the ball well. The first ball he dropped but then he picked it up from there on in.”
The Ramblers switched defensive schemes this spring, moving away from a 3-3 stack in favor of a base 3-4. “Defensively we've changed schemes and they picked that up real quick. We have a new defensive coordinator [Mike Perez] who has come in and put that in and they picked it up well and have taken off and ran with it.”
Perez, who coached multiple sports at Three Rivers last year, replaces former defensive coordinator Matt Porter, who took a job as offensive coordinator at Class 4A Dover.
“Blake Moss had a good day at defensive end and that was big. Alex Jenkins, a sophomore, had a good day at safety,” said Rose.
Linebacker Daniel Strain registered a sack and fumble recovery, Moss and Dustin Swint each recorded a sack and defensive end Tristen Evans made several plays in space while recovering a fumble for the White team.
The Red team moved the chains twice in 10 possessions, once when running back Payton Jones caught a pass from Andrew Adcock and again when receiver Wedge Mertsch turned a quick screen pass into a first down while breaking free from two defenders along the way.
Rose Bud now turns its focus to a busy summer that includes several 7-on-7 competitions and team camps.
“We have seven 7-on-7's and seven team camps this summer,” said Rose. “We play a team camp generally at least one day every week of the summer and one week we have two. So we are going to be busy.
“We have a good group of kids. They show up to do the work and we have plans to get a lot done this summer. We have a 7-on-7 league at Searcy, we've got three 7-on-7 tournaments to work on our timing in the passing game and to get some new coverage stuff in with our new defense,” added Rose.
The Ramblers are scheduled to compete in a team camp against schools of similar size in the Russellville area and another in Cave City.