By HDN Correspondent James Gensterblum
Brian Rauth has already proven that he’s more than capable of filling the shoes of previous Ranger stars Trent Morris and Trevor Ryan.
Friday night, the Reading senior showed that he’s also ready to make a little history of his own, leading the Rangers to a 40-7 win over the Athens Indians with more than 200 yards offensively.
Rauth rushed for 189 yards on 20 carries and scored touchdowns of six, 19, and 40 yards, and also caught four passes for 37 yards to torch the Indians.
“Brian’s got a knack for using his blockers extremely effectively,” said Ranger head coach Rick Bailey. “He finds the seams that his linemen create and makes the right cut every time. All of our backs are good at making the right decisions, but Brian’s a special player as far as that skill is concerned.”
Although Rauth was Reading’s weapon of choice against Athens, he was far from the only player to find success for the Rangers offensively. All told, the Rangers racked up 472 yards of total offense.
Fullback Billy Julian was the short yardage yin to Rauth’s yang, scoring touchdowns on runs of one and 12 yards to finish the night with 48 yards on nine carries.
The Rangers also had a strong day through the air. Quarterback Joe Hubbard had his best game of the season to date, completing nine of 14 passes for 135 yards and a 30-yard touchdown strike to Trevor Shafer in the first quarter.
“We don’t get to pass a lot in this offense because our running backs are so good at what they do,” Hubbard said. “It’s nice to get a chance to roll out and throw the ball around a little, and I try to keep myself sharp for when I do get those opportunities. Our offensive line, of course, always makes their blocks whether we’re running or passing.”
Defensively, the Rangers were no less dominant than their offensive counterparts. Reading didn’t allow the Indians to pick up a first down until late in the second quarter, after the Rangers were already ahead 33-0.
“Our defense started out strong and with a lot of intensity,” Bailey said. “Sometimes this season we haven’t been able to keep that intensity going, either because our substitutions weren’t in sync or we made some mistakes. But tonight, I feel like we had that intensity from the first tackle all the way to the last play by our backups, and that was good to see as a coach.”
Leading the way for the defense were the defensive linemen, who took advantage of the wide stances of Athens’ linemen in their spread attack to make plays behind the line of scrimmage.
“We watched a lot of film on Athens this week and we saw that we could make a lot of tackles in the backfield if we timed their snap count right,” linebacker James Piner said. “We had gaps to rush through that were huge all night. I didn’t get as many tackles as I thought I could have, but that was only because (lineman) Jimmy Julian was getting there first. Everyone was just playing great.”
With the win Reading moves to 4-0 overall and 3-0 in the Big 8, and welcomes Jonesville (2-2, 2-1 Big 8) next weekend. While Reading has looked dominant so far in Big 8 play, Bailey isn’t overlooking the Comets.
“They’ve (Jonesville) got two talented backs and a very physical offensive line, and I think they’re a very dangerous team,” Bailey said. “You can’t overlook anyone in the Big 8. We just have to keep playing hard week in and week out no matter who the opponent is.”