UTICA — The Utica Redskins’ Friday season-opening football matchup with the visiting Buckeye Local Panthers started off better than Redskins’ coach Randy Felumlee had hoped. Lifted by a pair of early touchdowns from its special teams and 313 rushing yards, Utica rolled on Friday night, 45-20.
The Redskins came out of the locker room looking to score on their first play, and that’s just what they did. Utica safety Briar Mueller got the season off with a bang, taking the opening kickoff all the way back for a touchdown.
“Actually, I was thinking about it the whole time,” said Mueller. “I was thinking about a kickoff return for a touchdown and I got it. I thought about it all week and I got it done.”
Buckeye Local had a three-and-out on the ensuing drive, then blew the snap to the punter on fourth down. Utica’s Trent Vickers ran the ball down in the endzone to give his team a 13-0 lead early in the first.
“It’s nice to start the season off like that,” said Felumlee. “The two scores of the special teams was a great, added bonus. It helped our psyche and probably killed theirs.”
Things got worse for Buckeye Local later in the first, when they took the ball down into Utica territory only to lose it on the 24. Panthers’ running back Dakota Flaherty fumbled it away to Utica tackle Mitchell Peck.
“Defensively, we had a couple of nice stops in that first half,” said Felumlee. “I think that really helped us to put it away.”
The Redskins proceeded to take the ball 63 yards on 10 plays, capping the drive with a 19-yard run by running back Ben Hays. The Redskins missed the ensuing 2-point attempt, and the score was 19-0.