GREENVILLE – Riverheads’ goal in the postseason is not to do more, but to do better.
In their Region 1A East semifinal against Colonial Beach, the Gladiators did both.
Brett Hostetler scored four touchdowns and Harrison Schaefer had two as the Red Pride cruised to a 55-20 victory over the Drifters on Friday at the Colosseum, giving Robert Casto his 200th victory as the Gladiators’ head coach.
The Red Pride move on to the Group 1A state semifinal in Galax on Saturday for a rematch Saturday with the Maroon Tide, who held off the Gladiators for a 7-6 win in last year’s 1A final.
Riverheads’ game plan, as usual, wasn’t fancy, but it was well executed, which is what Casto wants to see.
“We’ve gone back to square one and worked on our basic plays and want to do them well,” he said. “When you get in the playoffs, you don’t want to do more, you just try to do them better. We’ve lived with that philosophy the last couple of weeks, especially with the bye week.”
Hostetler was a big part of that, rushing for 77 yards on eight carries and three TDs on runs of 14, 15 and 16 yards. He also sparkled on special teams, returning a second-quarter punt 72 yards for a TD.
Schaefer, meanwhile, pounded away at the Drifters’ defense, piling up 106 yards on 19 carries. The senior scored both of his TDs in the first quarter, raising his season total to 29.
“Our kids blocked well and the backs hit the holes hard,” Casto said. “We broke a couple of decent runs, but that’s what happens in playoff football. It’s a tussle. I don’t think [the Drifters] see what we do down there, but I’m pleased with the way our kids performed.”
As it did last week against Essex, Riverheads got off to a quick start to put the Drifters on their heels right away. The Gladiators scored on their opening drive, forced a three-and-out on Colonial Beach’s first series, scored a second touchdown and then a third after recovering a Drifters fumble on the ensuing kickoff to make it 21-0 by the end of the first quarter.
The quick deficit forced Colonial Beach away from its rushing attack, spearheaded by 1,000-rusher Lamar Lucas, to its passing game and never recovered.
“It changed a lot of things they were going to do,” Casto said. “They started throwing the ball more and that took [Lucas] out of the ball game.”
The second quarter brought more of the same for the Drifters. They drove as far as the Gladiators 24 before fumbling the ball away at the 30, and after a nine-play, 70-yard drive, Riverheads converted it into another six points, courtesy of Hostetler’s third TD, to make it 28-0.
The Drifters were again forced to punt on their next series and Hostetler stepped up again. He took the kick at his 28, cut to the right sideline and cruised into the end zone for a 72-yard TD return and a 34-0 lead.
Colonial Beach’s next series also ended badly, as Chase Armstrong sacked Drifters quarterback Alonzo Turner for a 16-yard loss on fourth down at the Drifters 36. On the very next play, Armstrong rolled out and connected with Forrest Shuey on a 36-yard scoring play to push the lead to 41-0 at the half.
Hostetler scored his fourth TD on a 16-yard run in the third quarter and sophomore fullback Moose Lee capped the scoring for the Gladiators in the fourth quarter with a 1-yard run.
COLONIAL BEACH 0 0 7 13 — 20
RIVERHEADS 21 20 7 7 — 55
R – Hostetler 14 run (Martina kick)
R – Schaefer 6 run (Martina kick)
R – Schaefer 2 run (Martina kick)
R – Hostetler 15 run (Martina kick)
R – Hostetler 72 punt return (kick failed)
R – Shuey, 36 pass from Armstrong (Martina kick)
R – Hostetler 16 run (Martina kick)
C – Lucas 4 run (Dudley kick)
R – Lee 1 run (Martina kick)
C – Whiting, 12 pass from Turner (Dudley kick)
C – Feltner 44 fumble return (run failed)