AURORA | The optimism the Regis Jesuit football team had coming into the 2013 season was only reinforced by its performance Friday night.
With its defense recording a shutout and effective ground game that piled up 327 yards, Regis Jesuit topped Rangeview 27-0 in an all-Aurora season opener at packed Lou Kellogg Stadium.
Senior defensive back J.J. Kilgore returned an interception for a touchdown to put Regis Jesuit on the scoreboard first and Grant Neal, Matt Houghtaling and Jalen Williams rushed for scores in the subsequent three quarters as Regis Jesuit — which came into the season ranked No. 10 in the CHSAANow.com coaches/media poll — won its season opener for the third time in four seasons.
“It was a good win, we had a lot of people training hard for this and we had a good summer, so it’s nice to see it pay off with the first victory,” said Kilgore, one a slew of returning starters Regis Jesuit features on both sides of the ball.
It was the defense that broke a scoreless tie in the first quarter when Kilgore stepped in front of a pass from Rangeview quarterback Darien Odegard and took it back 30 yards — with some help — to the end zone.
“That was a lot of fun; I wouldn’t have gotten to the end zone without my blocking though,” Kilgore said of his first varsity touchdown.
Regis Jesuit kept grinding away on the ground, adding a 15-yard TD run by Neal for a 14-0 edge at halftime and building on it with Houghtaling’s 9-yard keeper on the first possession of the third quarter.
Williams ripped off a 62-yard touchdown with the game in hand in the fourth quarter — following Gunner Patterson’s recovery of an Odegard fumble — boosting his rushing total to a team-high 136 yards on 15 carries.
It was a mixed bag in the eyes of veteran Regis Jesuit assistant coach Bob McPhee, who saw some good things, but expects to see a better overall showing when his team faces Horizon in Week 2.
“You have to have that consistency of effort; we had it at times and we didn’t have it at times,” McPhee said. “We looked really sharp and then we shot ourselves in the foot. Some of that is first game I’m hoping. We should see a lot of improvement next week because that’s when you should make your biggest jump.”
Coach Dave Gonzales’ Rangeview team, meanwhile, got shut out for the first time in its past 20 games dating back to the opener of the 2011 season against Arapahoe.
Gonzales’ team played without one of its top offensive weapons, junior wide receiver Arealous Hughes, who didn’t have enough to practices to be eligible to play after gaining medical clearance.
Without Hughes’ speed threat on the outside, Odegard didn’t find much room to operate against Regis Jesuit’s aggressive defense, though he moved the team down to the 10-yard line in the closing seconds before getting dinged up.
“I thought we’d hang in there a little bit better, but I was pleased with our effort defensively with those guys being on the field a long time,” Gonzales said.
“We’ve got some positives to take out of it, but it was evident how young we are experience wise. We’ll get better each week.”
Sophomore Elijah Reed finished with two interceptions and junior Larry Reed and senior Anisoni Kami tied for a Rangeview-best 13 tackles on the night.
Rangeview continues a tough stretch of non-league games when it goes against Arapahoe next week, followed by a contest against Fairview. The Raiders went 0-3 with the same non-league schedule last season, but rebounded to win six straight games and the league championship before losing to Horizon in the first round of the 5A playoffs.
REGIS JESUIT 27, RANGEVIEW 0
Score by quarters:
Rangeview 0 0 0 0 — 0
Regis Jesuit 7 7 7 6 — 27
Regis Jesuit — JJ Kilgore 30 yard interception return (Vince Sabin kick)
Regis Jesuit — Grant Neal 15 yard run (Sabin kick)
Regis Jesuit — Matt Houghtaling 9 yard run (Sabin kick)
Regis Jesuit — Jalen Williams 62 yard run (kick failed)
Rangeview: Darien Odegard 11-59, Max Gonzales 13-21, Kietrich Griffin 5-10, Dominique Smith 1-8, Oscar Lorandi 3-7
Regis Jesuit: Jalen Williams 15-136, Grant Neal 8-67, Kameron Butler 17-56, Matt Houghtaling 6-42, Trevor Williams 3-19, John Schmidt 1-5, Cody Lippert 1-2
Rangeview: Odegard 3-13, 21 yards, 1 interception
Regis Jesuit: Houghtaling 5-9, 34 yards, 2 interceptions
Rangeview: Griffin 3-23, Gonzales 1-(minus 2)
Regis Jesuit: Cody Lippert 2-19, AJ Shaw 3-15
Courtney Oakes is Sports Editor of the Aurora Sentinel. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or email@example.com. Twitter: @aurorasports. Facebook: Aurora Prep Sentinel