CLINTON, Iowa — Ryan Donovan and Suni Lane were almost starting to feel neglected.
During the opening month of the season, Bettendorf’s football team had six players catch touchdown passes. None of them were Donovan or Lane, the team’s starting receivers.
Owen Ridenour changed that immediately Friday night.
Donovan and Lane each had first-quarter touchdown receptions as the Class 4A second-ranked Bulldogs scored on their first six possessions and cruised to a 40-10 rout over Clinton at Coan Field in a district opener.
“I was really wanting one,” said Donovan, who finished with a team-high five catches for 69 yards. “I really needed one. This is a big boost for me to get that one under my belt.”
Bettendorf (5-0, 1-0) has not abandoned the run, but it certainly is traveling more through the air this season.
Ridenour completed 15 of 22 passes for 241 yards and threw four touchdown passes for the second consecutive game. The Bulldogs are throwing the ball 23 times per game so far, up from 15.6 attempts last season.
“Based on our past, everyone expects us to pound the ball up the middle,” Ridenour said. “It is good we can show our versatile nature. We have a lot of guys that can step up and play.”
The Bulldogs had seven players catch a pass in each of the first four games. They had nine haul in a reception Friday. Ian Beck and Dalton McLaughlin also had receiving scores.
“We have a lot of different weapons,” Donovan said. “There’s not one guy you can lock onto. You’ve got to be prepared for everyone. It is hard to stop.”
Coming into the season, Bettendorf had some uncertainty on who would fill the skilled positions. Dax Emerson has emerged at tailback and picked up 87 yards and a touchdown.
Ridenour, who also had 85 yards on the ground, has solidified the quarterback spot, completing 67 percent of his passes for 819 yards and 11 touchdowns.
“He’s a talented kid,” Bettendorf coach Aaron Wiley said. “Owen is getting a little more comfortable every week. He had another really nice day and our offensive lined played well.”
The Bulldogs finished with 454 yards and 22 first downs. Bettendorf has outscored its last four opponents, 154-27.
“We’re pretty unstoppable on offense right now,” Donovan said.
The defense held Clinton’s aerial attack of Johnny Sullivan and Theo Harris in check for most of the contest. Sullivan finished with 143 yards and a touchdown, while Harris caught nine passes for 108 yards and a score.
Just five games into the season, Harris became Clinton’s single-season career receptions leader with 46.
“Theo Harris is as good of a receiver as we’re going to play all year,” Wiley said. “He’s pretty special talent. We tried to mix up some different looks. I don’t know if you can fully contain that guy.”
Clinton (2-3, 0-1), though, had only three first downs in the opening half and 59 total yards. It finished with a meager 27 rushing yards.
“We played pretty perfect to start off district play,” Donovan said. “It was a really good start.”