AURORA — The Ridgewood football team is now two weeks into the season, yet it is still very much in the process of evaluation and development.
The Rebels’ 47-0 victory over an overmatched Crossroads squad on Saturday night was evidence of that.
Of the Rebels’ young players in need of in-game experience, none is more critical to the team’s success than quarterback Alex Rice. The sophomore, who switched from wide receiver to quarterback this year, is a talented runner and finished with 69 yards on 12 carries against Crossroads.
Rice struggled throwing the ball, however, and passing figures to be a critical component of Ridgewood’s offense as it heads into tough games against Fenton on Friday and Glenbard South the following week.
“I still have to learn a lot because I just started this year,” said Rice, who went 5-for-14 passing for 36 yards.
Rice went on to explain that a major facet of his growth at quarterback is getting more comfortable with his reads when he drops back to pass, specifically in seeing the coverage the defense is playing and finding the open receiver.
He also said he needs to improve his accuracy, which Zack said is hurt at times by the different things Rice is trying to remember and do when he’s playing quarterback.
Although that’s the case, Rice showed the ability to move the team down the field on Saturday. The Rebels scored 27 points with him at quarterback in the first half.
“He showed me some things, especially with his feet,” Zack said. “For him, it’s still learning some of the reads and things like that. I think that’s just going to come with more and more practice, and more and more time.”
While the Rebels once again struggled through the air — Rice was 0-for-8 in last week’s 41-0 loss to Niles West — they rushed for 328 yards on Saturday night. Ridgewood had four players rush for more than 40 yards, but the rushing attack’s revelation was Luke Krljic. The speedy senior has a background playing running back, but he said he has only played wide receiver at Ridgewood.
That changed on Saturday night, however, when he gashed the Crusaders for 121 yards on seven carries in the second half. Krljic finished with two rushing touchdowns in the game and looked dynamic with the ball in his hands.
“I was comfortable, but it was a lot different,” Krljic said of playing running back. “The pace of the game’s different. … It was a lot slower. I liked it.”
Rice will likely start against Fenton, Zack said, but he was a little bit coyer about where Krljic will play against the Bison. It’s a possibility that he sees more time at running back.
Regardless, Zack conceded it’s clear the offense has room to improve.
“We still have a lot of work to do, offensively, and hopefully we can watch film and correct it because we have a big game coming up this week,” Zack said.