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Not-So-Sweet-16 Bruin Varsity Boys Suffer Injuries, Loss To Big Valley
Injuries to a starting running back, receiver and center left Riverbank High's varsity football team with just 17 players to dress for Friday's non-league bout vs. host Big Valley.

To make matters worse - playmaking quarterback/safety Alex Reynaga suffered a painful high ankle sprain on the second snap from scrimmage.

The devastating injury left Riverbank with just 16 players to sludge through a 56-6 defeat in Modesto. The loss drops the Bruins to 0-4 with reigning state champions, Modesto Christian, and TVL stalwart, Escalon, next on the schedule as they begin the tough Trans-Valley League schedule.

"I guess it's been a little frustrating, and definitely challenging," Riverbank coach Aaron Thurman said. "When you lose your quarterback on the third play of the game (counting the kickoff), you have to just do what you know best.

"So we went to the trap, and we thought the run game was going well."

With speedy runner Angel Duarte sidelined with a leg injury, Riverbank leaned heavily on Eddie Sanchez for tough runs up the middle of the field. Sanchez carried defenders for a few hard-earned first downs in the opening half and finished with 148 yards from scrimmage.

Riverbank's lone score came from a 45-yard touchdown pass from substitute quarterback Rodrigo Silva to Andrew Franco. Silva filled in admirably under center, despite taking only a few snaps in practice sessions this season.

The Lions were up 35-0 at the half after a long punt return touchdown as time expired in the second quarter. A would-be Bruin tackler seemed to get blocked in the black just as the Big Valley runner re-gained possession of his muffed return, but no flag was thrown during the 60-yard score.

Riverbank is in the midst of its Homecoming Week festivities and will host Modesto Christian for the Friday night match at Angelo Novi Field. It will be the Trans-Valley League opener for both squads and the Crusaders have struggled to an 0-4 start this season. The Crusaders were ousted in a 56-20 season opener to Oakdale, but then lost their next three games by a combined four points. Modesto Christian fell to Division I Downey 39-37 last week.

"MC might be the best 0-4 team in the state, and we have to get mentally prepared for that game," Thurman said. "I think our scheme and practice preparation will lead us towards a competitive ball game."