After years of mediocre on-field results, Two Rivers really turned it around last year, going 8-2 and taking second in the Eastern Wisconsin Conference.
The Raiders are no longer in rebuilding mode, but the team lost a lot of seniors from that squad. Was there enough to keep the momentum going, especially with All-State quarterback Brett Kasper and head coach Brent Luebke no longer a part of the team?
If Saturday’s season opener was any indication, TR continues to be in good hands.
Kevin Shillcox’s first game as head coach of the Raiders ended in victory, a 28-14 triumph at Kettle Moraine Lutheran.
“Talking to the kids, nothing’s changed,” said Shillcox, who was promoted from assistant coach for the head job. “Just like we were last year. That’s what I wanted it to be.”
Last year, Dexter Smith was among the state’s most-productive wide receivers. Now he’s the quarterback. Opponents might be wishing he was still lining up to the outside.
On Friday, Smith excelled with his arm and his feet. He went 21-of-27 passing for 192 yards and a touchdown. On the ground, he rushed 18 times for 117 more yards and two scores.
“It puts huge pressure on a defense. I know when we run into a quarterback like that, it’s a nightmare figuring out how to spy and contain him,” said Shillcox.
“(After Saturday’s game) The Kettle Moraine coach told me they worked on it all week,” he added, “and it still didn’t work.”
Defenders couldn’t concentrate on one key receiver, either. Six different Raiders hauled in passes; five had at least two.
Meanwhile, the Raiders’ defense, Shillcox said, focused on the fundamentals in the second half and pitched a shutout over the final two quarters.
Indeed, TR appears to be picking up right where it left off last year.
The Formidable Four, ranking the area’s top football teams this season, is based on team talent plus on-field success.
1. Two Rivers (1-0) — def. Kettle Moraine Lutheran 28-14
2. Roncalli (1-0) — def. Mishicot 42-0
3. Manitowoc Lincoln (0-1) — lost to G.B. Southwest 40-14
4. Reedsville (1-0) — def. Southern Door 33-15