When quarterback Bekkem Kritza transferred out to California over the summer, it left a hole in coach Tom McCartney’s pass-until-you-drop attack. Even further, it broke up the connection between Kritza and favorite receiver Jordan Rechel that probably would’ve only grown in the coming years after their grand freshman entrance.
But like many who find good even after loss, the Rowan Risner-Rechel duo is helping the Knights stay in the present.
Though it came in a 38-15 loss to CHSAA Class 5A No. 4 ranked Valor Christian, the junior first-year starter and Rechel continued to look like a seasoned fixture Friday night at Recht Field, combining for 114 yards and a score.
“It’s a tough loss but our connection has definitely gotten better,” Rechel said. “We’re just working every day to get better and hopefully win a state championship.”
As rain fell and temperatures dropped nearly 50 degrees from the day before, the Knights recouped after a slow start with a long Risner-Rechel TD connection, followed by a rushing score from Rechel that got the Knights (2-1) within 14-12 early in the third quarter.
It got lively for the home fans, then it just got cold.
The Eagles’ run game took over from there, ending their first three second-half drives with rushing TDs to pull away.
“I’m very proud of our guys,” McCartney said. “They executed the plan and gave us opportunities to be in the game and that’s all you can ask for as a coach. We had big goals tonight and may have fallen a little bit short.”
Down 14-0 late in the first half, Risner looked Rechel’s way as he streaked down the field — a setup similar to the one that led to an interception earlier. This time, Rechel got a step on his corner and Risner dropped the pass into his stretched arms three yards deep into the end zone, cutting the lead to 14-6.
The two’s connection has now totaled 23 receptions, 335 yards and three scores in three games.
“I’m proud of both those guys,” McCartney said. “They spend a lot of time with each other, in the subtle moments of ‘Hey, here’s what you can expect here. Here’s what you can expect here.’ We’re just going to keep working it.”
Fairview recovered an onside kick out of the half before Rechel dazzled with a 20-yard rushing score, where powered through the middle of the line before breaking outside for the score.
Valor Christian (2-1) answered with a 15-play drive that included 14 runs and a 1-yard score from Trey Stott.
Roman Bradley added to the lead with a 6-yard TD early in the fourth and Jake Isernhagen put things away with second TD of the night with 7:51 remaining.
Fairview is on the road at Horizon Thursday.