Reilly the highlight in Plymouth’s loss

by Dave Boehler
Review Sports Editor

AIDEN REILLY MAKES a sliding catch Friday in Plymouth’s loss at New Berlin Eisenhower. He made eight catches for 80 yards and scored twice. – Photo by Tyler Luedtke AIDEN REILLY MAKES a sliding catch Friday in Plymouth’s loss at New Berlin Eisenhower. He made eight catches for 80 yards and scored twice. – Photo by Tyler Luedtke Aiden Reilly’s days as filling in at wide receiver are over.

Last season, the Plymouth junior was a defensive back who was part of the offensive rotation. He finished with a total of 11 catches for 112 yards without any touchdowns.

On Friday, Reilly caught eight passes for 80 yards and two touchdowns in the Panthers’ 29-14 season-opening loss at New Berlin Eisenhower.

“We knew Aiden’s athletic ability and catching ability all along,” Plymouth coach Dan Knaus said. “He showed it in summer during seven on seven that he can go up and catch 50-50 balls. He runs good routes and he’s got great hands.”

Reilly already had a 22-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter when he added a 6-yard TD reception to trim the Lions’ lead to 22-14 with just over 4 minutes left in the non-conference game.

Plymouth had a chance to tie the game after it recovered a fumble near its 25-yard line, but three plays later, the Panthers committed their sixth turnover of the game. Eisenhower capitalized with the final touchdown with 55 seconds to go.

“The turnovers were definitely the difference maker,” Knaus said. “We outgained them by over 100 yards and had 20 more plays. If we don’t turn the ball over, we probably win the game. But five interceptions weren’t all (quarterback) Cole Booth’s fault. We had some dropped balls that went through hands, we had different things that caused the turnovers. But the outcome of the game was definitely because of the turnovers.

“We’re confident that we have the right ingredients to be a pretty darn good team. We showed that we can play physical, we showed that we can block well and moved the ball. We played solid defense. We’ve just got to clean things up, take care of the football, do all those little things well and we’ll be just fine. We’re encouraged as a coaching staff as to what we have.”

Booth, a junior who is replacing first-team all-East Central quarterback Cade Knaus, had five interceptions. He also completed 22 of 32 passes for 188 yards, and his coach thought he did a lot of good things in his starting debut.

“He showed his athleticism in the run game and scramble ability,” Knaus said. “He made a couple of bad decisions but he also had some receivers that didn’t come up with catches for him. Then other plays, receivers made unbelievable catches for him. So I think it was a good first game for him, to feel comfortable there and learn the position.”

Perhaps Booth’s stats would be better playing a weaker opponent. The Lions, who defeated Plymouth by one point in Week 1 last season, went 13-1 and finished as Division 3 state runner-up.

But Knaus’ philosophy has always been to play a really solid team to open the season to find out where his team is at.

“We care if we win, but our objective is not to find a game we can win,” Knaus said. “It’s to find a team that’s going to test us. We’ve played Waterford, we’ve played Kenosha Indian Trail and now Eisenhower for the last 10 years in Week 1. So we’ve always played a solid program that’ll give us a good test and show our kids what it’s really like to play high-quality football.”

But after four years of playing Eisenhower, this could be the end of the series.

“We both want to keep the game, but they’re getting a little pressure to play someone close in Milwaukee,” Knaus said. “We put it out on the WIAA website to look for another game, but neither one of us has gotten any interest from anybody. We’ll see.”

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