Walker Riney moved to wide receiver full time this week and he might be staying there.
The Crescent Valley senior has steadily worked his way into the position the past few weeks while moving from quarterback.
Riney has found chemistry with Kai Garber and it showed Friday night as Riney hauled in four first-half catches, three for touchdowns, in the Raiders’ 55-3 win against South Albany in a Mid-Willamette Conference football game at Corvallis’ Bob Holt Stadium.
“I played it last year, so I thought it was easy,” Riney said of the transition. “I just do what I can do in practice with my team, how I can play better. “(Garber) trusts me to go up and get the ball but he also trusts me to make blocks when I need to.”
Riney gave a “shout out” to teammate Cam Hemzacek for helping him improve as the two guarded each other in practice. Riney said more intense, physical practices leading up to the game paid off.
Hemzacek had a good game as well just a few days after the Raiders (3-3, 3-3) installed an option offense. The senior ran for 181 yards on 12 carries including a 65-yard touchdown run on the first play of the third quarter that initiated a running clock the rest of the way due to the 45-point rule.
Teammate Trevor Adams, a regular in the Raiders’ backfield, wasn’t completely healthy, giving Hemzacek more opportunities.
Garber threw the three touchdowns and also ran for two scores.
“(Riney) and Kai both need to be on the field, and we like that matchup outside with Walker,” CV coach Mike Connor said, also noting a few big catches by Riney against Dallas a week earlier. “If felt good to finally click offensively.”
CV’s Damian Avalos rushed eight times for 70 yards and two touchdowns. He also had a first-half interception. Garber had 116 yards passing and 48 rushing on six attempts.
Tyler Seiber rushed for 60 yards for South Albany (2-4, 2-4). Teammate Devin Jones had four catches for 45 yards. South’s Hans Laufer passed for 35 yards and reserve Datsun Corpus 41.
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On their way to a 42-3 halftime lead, the Raiders got on the board on a Garber 17-yard touchdown run that followed a Hemzacek 65-yarder on the ground.
The RedHawks answered with a Chris Monroy 33-yard field goal. After a long kickoff return by Riney to the South 46, CV scored again on the first of three straight Garber-to-Riney touchdown connections.
The first one went for 31 yards. The Raiders recovered the kickoff and scored four plays later on Riney’s 21-yard grab.
Avalos’ interception of Hans Laufer came on the next snap. Two plays later, Riney was in the end zone again with another 31-yard catch.
Garber scored on a 20-yard run with 6:33 left in the half, giving the Raiders four touchdowns in just more than five minutes.
Avalos scored on a 12-yard touchdown run with 20 seconds left in the half.
“We’ve got some dynamic skill guys, and I think we might be on to something,” said Connor, whose team has older offensive linemen without a lot of varsity experience.
The win keeps CV clearly in the 5A state playoff hunt, while South faces an uphill climb to claim one of the Mid-Willamette’s five berths.
“At least we give ourselves a shot and see what happens the next three weeks,” Connor said.
Both teams are on the road next Friday, with Crescent Valley at Silverton and South Albany at Lebanon.
Garber suffered an ankle injury and the hope is he’ll be ready for Silverton, Connor said.