CHARLESTON-- The Charleston Bluejays football team (0-2) met the Portageville Bulldogs (0-2) Friday night at Charleston's Marshall Athletic Complex. Both were looking for their first win of the season. However, it was the Bluejays who emerged victorious from the contest rolling the Bulldogs 49-0.
The offensive performance of Charleston was headlined by senior running back Antonio Riggens. Riggens rushed for 142 yards on only seven carries with three touchdowns in the game.
"I was just thinking about getting the win for our team," Riggens said after Friday's game. "We needed one. I knew I had to run the ball hard tonight. Thats what I did. My offensive line did a great job blocking for me. I hope we can keep that up next Friday against New Madrid."
Charleston head coach Dan Kesselring was pleased with his running backs performance Friday night.
"We've been hoping for (Antonio) Riggens to step up and have a big game for us and he did just that tonight," Kesselring said.
The rest of the Bluejays backfield complied 160 yards and three rushing touchdowns with significant contributions from Ronson Beard, Maurice Moore, and Claude Armstrong.
Kesselring believes that had a lot to do with the offensive line and their play Friday night.
"We were kind of concerned with the way Portageville played their defensive ends so wide," he said. "We did a good job of getting out there and scoop blocking them. Garrison Eastman had a great game at offensive tackle. Our running backs did a good job blocking for each other as well."
The efficient passing game of quarterback Chase McClendon and his corps of inexperienced yet talented receivers added extra punch to Charleston's attack.
Kesselring feels the passing game is coming along nicely and will only get better as the season progresses.
"Chase had a great year last year," he said. "He had great receivers in (Matt) Medlock and (Allen) Hemphill. When you lose kids like that, they are hard to replace. We are starting to show signs of that though. Deonte Jones has had some tremendous catches this year. Chase needs to do a better job of reading the field, but he's getting there with that. He has a great arm and can put the ball where he needs to. We need to just get some more confidence in some of our receivers so that we can start to utilize them more."
Charleston's defense, which has been a problem so far this season, showed signs of vast improvement Friday night, especially in the secondary.
"I was really pleased with our pass coverage," Kesselring said. "We have real inexperienced defensive backs. But,we really tuned in tonight and played well in pass coverage. We should have had a couple of interceptions. But, at least we are where we need to be to make those plays."
Kesselring feels that tonight's win will carry over momentum into the following weeks.
"Anytime you win, in any sport or anything in general, it brings your morale up," he said. "Thats one thing we focused on all week this week is to bring the morale up and 'rally the troops' so to speak. We were in the same situation last year with losses to Kennett and Sikeston before this game last year. We came back then with a win against Portageville and went on to win the district. Thats something our kids would like to do again. We just try to get better every week and get ready for that district play"
Portageville falls to 0-3 with Friday's loss. Bulldogs head coach Lee Wallace feels that his team can take positive things from every game.
"What I liked is that some of our young guys are getting a chance to play," Wallace said. "They are coming in and doing their best. They aren't coming out and making excuses. They aren't trying to leave the game or anything. Thats a positive that some of our inexperienced guys are trying to do what we've asked of the older guys, which is to toughen up, learn, and grow and mature as football players."
Wallace pointed to injuries and other personnel issues as roadblocks to developing a cohesive unit on the field constantly.
"We have the injury bug,"he said "We are still having to move a lot of guys around."
Wallace commented on the positive direction that the Charleston Football program is going in.
"He (Kesselring) has got a lot to look forward to," Wallace said. "We saw his kids all night communicate with each other. They may not have done that the first two weeks. But, tonight they were able to come out and execute."
Kesselring in turn had kind words for Wallace and the way he coaches and teaches his players.
"I want to commend Portageville's effort tonight," Kesselring said. "They played all four quarters. I know they are struggling just like we are but, you never saw them get mad. They kept their composure well. I just can't say enough about Coach Wallace and his staff and how their trying to build that program back."