RIVERVIEW - The scenario had worried Hillsborough coach Earl Garcia all week.
The Terriers, coming off an emotional district victory against Middleton, had to go to Riverview, a nondistrict opponent, with another crucial district game with Freedom looming next week. Garcia, fearing a possible letdown, wasn't sure how his team would respond.
But Hillsborough didn't take long to put the longtime coach's thoughts at ease. In fact, the Terriers needed only 14 seconds to accomplish that much.
Colby Walden returned the opening kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown, and the Terriers spent the game's final 47-plus minutes pounding home the fact they are one of Hillsborough County's best teams in a 35-0 dismantling of the Sharks at J. Vince Thompson Stadium.
'We were sandwiched with two crucial district games with a Class 6A football team that is dangerous as heck,' Garcia said. 'Our kids responded well.'
All of them. The Terriers (5-0) got contributions across the board offensively, with four running backs - Marc Thomas, Iziah Wyche, Lindsey Lamar and Rodney Johnson - finding the end zone. And the Terriers did it with big plays, registering seven offensive plays of 15 yards or more - three of which were passes from quarterback Tarean Austin, who finished five of 14 for 134 yards.
But Riverview (1-3) had its chances.
Even while staring at a 7-0 deficit after Walden's kickoff return, the Sharks marched into the red zone on their initial drive. However, the 16-play drive stalled when Riverview came up short on fourth-and-2.
That was the first of two first-half drives in which the Sharks reached the red zone but came away with nothing. The second, a 12-play drive on the team's third possession, ended with a missed field goal.
'I thought we played pretty tough,' Riverview coach Dan O'Regan said. 'But we just couldn't finish a drive. It was a frustrating thing, especially the more you think about it.'
'It felt like we had the Great Wall of China going down there,' said senior running back Jahleel Addae, who finished with 92 yards on 24 carries. 'We drove down to the red zone, but we just couldn't capitalize when we got down there.'
Riverview running back John Green led the Sharks with 104 yards on 15 carries. Lamar led the Terriers with 64 yards on 11 carries, while Wyche had 53 yards on five carries.
The win leaves the Terriers perfect through the first half of the season, something they've accomplished for the fourth time in the past six years. However, Garcia's bunch is anything but satisfied.
'That's three shutouts now for our defense, and the offense came and made some plays,' Garcia said. 'But we can get better.'
Hillsborough714140-35Riverview0000-0 H-Walden 80 kickoff return (Colborne kick)
H-M. Thomas 4 run (Colborne kick)
H-I. Wyche 39 run (Colborne kick)
H-R. Johnson 25 run (Colborne kick)
H-L. Lamar 1 run (Colborne kick)
TEAM STATISTICS Hills.River.First downs 13 Rushing