By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Team Unity Leads Bruins Past Wildcats
Riverbank High School football coach Aaron Thurman and his coaching staff have stressed to their players the importance of improving all aspects of team play that leads toward becoming a competitive ball club.

The Bruins took another step in that direction at Waterford on Friday night in a non-league game between the two east side Stanislaus County high schools.

Suiting up 16 players - the Bruins had just 13 players in uniform two weeks ago at Livingston - in this game, Riverbank used special teams play and defense to post a 19-8 victory over Waterford, which celebrated its fall Homecoming festivities. The victory improves the Bruins to 2-2 on the season, one of their best records since Rusty Stivers served as head coach for two seasons. He's now the offensive coordinator for the Modesto Junior College football team.

"Another building block, another step that is building us to becoming a competitive ball team," said Thurman after the game. "It was a team effort tonight. They showed a lot of promise."

Bruins linebacker Jose Moreno and defensive back Jorge Gomez defined the team theory play with 44 seconds left in the first quarter. After gaining a combined eight yards on six plays, the Wildcats punted the ball. But Moreno drove up the middle, blocked the ball that Gomez scooped and ran back 28 yards for a touchdown. The extra point missed, giving Riverbank a 6-0 lead.

"They are just getting better," said Thurman of his two players and defense.

The Bruins' defense forced two Wildcat turnovers in the second quarter; one which led to a Riverbank touchdown. Starting at its own 45-yard line, Riverbank marched down the field with runs from running back Shane Gaynor and Moreno, who doubles as fullback, plus two complete passes from quarterback Marcus Sahagan to Moreno for a combined 31 yards. Placing the ball at the Waterford 5-yard line, the Bruins received extra help from the officials when they flagged Waterford coach Dave Hill for unsportsmanlike conduct; the head coach argued with the head official over one of his players' equipment. Spotting the ball at the 'Cats' 1-yard line, Moreno busted up the middle on a gut play with 3:38 left to give Riverbank a 12-0 lead; the extra point was no good.

Toward the end of the quarter, Moreno was going to attempt a 49-yard field goal. But two Riverbank penalties, illegal procedure and calling a timeout when the Bruins were out of timeouts in the first half, pushed the ball further back to the point Riverbank went into its prevent defense to end the half.

Waterford managed to get on the scoreboard in the third quarter with 2:26 left when running back Philip Tubera scored on a 1-yard run that capped a 19-play, 91-yard drive, consuming time off the clock to their benefit.

Down 12-6 going into the fourth quarter, the host Wildcats caught a break on the first play of the quarter; they recorded a safety when the Bruins lined up to punt the ball, but it was snapped into the Wildcats' end zone with 11:54 left to make it 12-8.

Receiving the ball on the safety, Waterford marched to the Riverbank 16-yard line, only once again to turn the ball over on downs.

Back on offense, the Bruins, who ran out of the wishbone offense after spending the first three weeks of the season running the flex bone, scored the final touchdown. Sahagan tossed a 22-yard pass to C.J. Robles with 5:04 left. Moreno's kick was good to make it final.

In the junior varsity game, Waterford blanked Riverbank, 32-0.

This Friday's Le Grand-Riverbank game is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. in Riverbank, a final non-league contest for the Bruins before the start of Trans-Valley League play.