By Kurt Ritzman
Assistant Sports Editor
Camanche coach Steve Dougherty hopes the Indians learned a lesson Friday night.
“I think we thought we were just going to walk out on the field and throw our hat out there and scare Bellevue away,” Dougherty said. “We need to come out ready to play.”
Bellevue quarterback Cole Reeg and his teammates didn’t scare away. Reeg rushed for 224 yards — 169 in the second half — and three touchdowns to lead the Comets to a 21-6 victory in the season opener for both teams.
Neither team played particularly well in the first half. Each team committed three turnovers before halftime, Bellevue was called for nine penalties, and Camanche recorded only three first downs.
But Indians senior running back Aaron Shum provided a big play to put his team ahead.
After Isaah Jackson intercepted a pass by Reeg to give Camanche the ball at its own 24, the Indians called a play for Shum. He took a pitch, got to the corner and turned up the sideline for a 76-yard touchdown run midway through the second quarter.
The Indians gained only 20 other yards of offense in the first half and 70 yard in the second half.
“We played terrible,” Dougherty said. “We can’t get running backs in the right position in the backfield. We can’t block our assignments. We can’t even get our receivers in the right formation, and we forgot how to tackle.”
Reeg took advantage in the second half. On Bellevue’s second possession of the third quarter, Reeg led the Comets on an eight-play, 69-yard touchdown drive. Reeg ran for 54 yards on the drive, including the final 5 for a touchdown. The extra point put Bellevue ahead 7-6.
“We started getting after it and stopped feeling sorry for us,” Reeg said of the change in the second half. “We started competing.”
After Camanche went three-and-out, the Comets needed just four plays to cover 70 yards and take a 14-6 lead.
Reeg started the drive with a play-action fake to his tailback, then kept the ball himself and ran between the guard and tackle on the right side of the line for a 45-yard gain.
“(Camanche) wouldn’t come up and fill the hole, so I took it to them,” Reeg said. “Our line would get to their linebackers and it would just be me against a safety or corner.”
Two plays later, Reeg scored on a 14-yard run.
“They beat us off the ball,” Dougherty said. “How many times did we see guys 15 yards down the field on their back? Our guys. They beat us up.”
The Comets put the game away on their first drive off the fourth quarter.
“I think the other team laid down,” Reeg said. “We smelled blood in the water and got after them. We were finishing blocks, both on the line and our receivers.”
Bellevue marched 93 yards on 13 plays and took more than six minutes off the clock. Reeg rushed for 58 yards on the drive, including a 12-yard touchdown, and also completed a 32-yard pass to Robert Schroeder.
That touchdown put Camanche down by 15 with 3:23 to play. Indians quarterback Cody Mensinger completed a couple of passes to get the Indians to midfield, but that was as far as they could get.
“Our offensive line are all returning linemen,” Dougherty said. “Our defense, probably seven of them were starters last year. We’re a veteran team. This is unacceptable for the amount of experience that we put on the field.”
The Camanche coach said his team didn’t need to start over, but it needed to perform better going forward. Dougherty said the Indians were capable of that.
“It’s not square one; we just need to get them to focus,” he said. “We have the skills. This is one of the smartest teams I’ve ever coached. This is one of the fastest teams I’ve ever coached.”
BELLEVUE 21, CAMANCHE 6
Camanche 0 6 0 0 — 6
Bellevue 0 0 14 7 — 21
C — Aaron Shum 76 run (kick failed), 6:25
B — Cole Reeg 5 run (Ben Lawrence kick), 5:36
B — Reeg 14 run (Lawrence kick), 1:43
B — Reeg 12 run (Lawrence kick), 3:23
Rushing — Camanche (25-101), Aaron Shum 7-80, Derek Harksen 8-24, Isaah Jackson 3-11, Easton McDaniel 2-4, Devin Norman 2-minus-4, Cody Mensinger 3-minus-12; Bellevue (47-288), Cole Reeg 29-224, Jace Michels 16-56, Robert Schroeder 1-10.
Passing — Camanche (6-15-2, 55 yards), Mensinger 6-15-2, 55 yards; Bellevue (6-17-2, 67 yards), Reeg 6-17-2, 67 yards.
Receiving — Camanche (6-55), Jackson 4-41, Mike Osaro 1-10, McDaniel 1-4; Bellevue (6-67), Schroeder 5-64, Michels 1-3.