High School Football

What has sparked high-flying Red Bud to 3-0 football start?

Red Bud football Coach Dave Lucht (right) has watched his team open the 2016 season with three straight wins.
Red Bud football Coach Dave Lucht (right) has watched his team open the 2016 season with three straight wins.

Red Bud is 3-0 for the first time since 2010 and the Musketeers have been wearing out the end zones wherever they play.

They are averaging 51.3 points and 387 yards of offense, splitting their attack between the ground (592 yards rushing) and air (569 yards passing) while lighting up the scoreboard like a Christmas tree.

The trio causing most of the trouble for opposing defenses has been senior quarterback Griffin Ziebold, senior running back Ryan Hess and senior receiver Gavin Rensing.

“Honestly I feel like every time we touch the ball we’ve got a good chance to score,” said Ziebold, a second-year starter who has thrown for 569 yards and 10 touchdowns. “We put a lot of work in the summer and our linemen have been at it for some time now. They’re making a lot of good blocks to give me time to throw and Ryan room to run.”

Ziebold was 12-for-20 for 259 yards and four TDs last week in Red Bud’s crazy 62-48 Cahokia Conference win over Carlyle.

“Being 3-0 it’s a great feeling walking around town, getting compliments from fans that don’t always pay attention to us when we’re in down years,” Ziebold said. “It’s a great feeling.”

Honestly I feel like every time we touch the ball we’ve got a good chance to score.

Red Bud quarterback Griffin Ziebold

Hess, who played mostly slot back as a junior, has been a revelation at running back while also returning two kickoff for touchdowns. He had 101 yards rushing and four TDs against Carlyle to push his season totals to 494 yards and 10 touchdowns.

“He’s definitely got the speed and agility,” Red Bud coach Dave Lucht said of Hess. “He’s pretty explosive. He’s 6-foot-2 and right at 200 pounds and it makes him hard to stop at the line of scrimmage, but when he gets in the secondary that’s where you see the most happening.”

Ben Schwartzkopf has been Red Bud’s offensive coordinator since 2005 and helped the team make three straight playoff appearance from 2009-11.

Do the Musketeers have what it takes to reach the playoffs? Still remaining on the Cahokia Conference schedule are Columbia (3-0), Central (3-0) and Freeburg (1-2).

“The time and effort required to produce like this so far doesn’t happen in two weeks of practice at the beginning of August,” Schwartzkopf said. “That says a lot about the dedication to the team and each other that these players have.”

He’s pretty explosive. He’s 6-foot-2 and right at 200 pounds and it makes him hard to stop at the line of scrimmage, but when he gets in the secondary that’s where you see the most happening.

Red Bud coach Dave Lucht on Ryan Hess

Rensing is also making a major impact on the offense with seven of his 14 receptions going for touchdowns. He caught four passes for 126 yards and two TDs against Carlyle and in only three games is among the St. Louis area receiving leader with 14 catches for 357 yards and seven TDs.

That’s an average of 25.5 yards per reception.

“The Rensing kid is tearing it up the most for receptions, but against Carlyle it kind of opened the field for us,” Lucht said. “Everybody’s getting in on the game and we’re able to spread it out a little bit.”

Ziebold likes having so many options at his disposal.

With Hess’s speed and his physicality he can do a lot of things, not only from the running back position,” Ziebold said. “That’s a good option we have when we can throw another running back in the backfield or throw him in the slot to help our passing game out a lot more.”

Lucht also has seen growth in talent and leadership from Ziebold, who also plays basketball and baseball for the Musketeers.

“We kind of hoped that’s what would happen,” Lucht said. “He’s also able to maneuver around and get himself out of trouble to connect on his passes. Hes’ got a good group of receivers to work with, they’re pretty sure-handed, plus he’s an intelligent kid and a real competitor.”

Junior Logan Houba, who returned an interception 99 yards for a TD earlier this season, is among the defensive standouts along with Hess and Rensing.

“We knew we had a good athletic team going in and that gave us a good team chemistry to stat the year,” Ziebold said. “Now that we’ve gotten a few wins under our belt we really have a lot of confidence in each other.”

Norm Sanders: 618-239-2454, @NormSanders

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