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The first time Greenfield football players went after coach Shane Covington with a barrel of Gatorade on Aug. 25, he slipped away downfield.

The Hustlin' Hawks persevered, though, and they did manage to douse him a few minutes later to celebrate his first victory as a head coach.

The Hawks may have caught up with Covington, but the Pius XI defense never caught up to Greenfield's Ezekiel Banks and Rayvon Bartlett Jr., on three huge plays to help the Hawks rout the Popes, 62-18, in their home opener.

Banks ran back the game's opening kickoff some 80 yards for a touchdown, and he closed the scoring with an 87-yard kickoff return.

"That was my first time (with two kickoff return scores in the same game)," Banks said. "I guess I was just patient. I found the holes and used my speed where I needed to. Every time I get the ball, I just want to score."

Bartlett blazes

Bartlett showed his speed as well on an 83-yard touchdown sprint in the second quarter which put the Hawks up, 27-12. On 3rd--and-14, Bartlett moved to his left, saw a huge opening and rambled down the left sideline, outdistancing the Pius defense for the score.

"We called a play to the right, and I saw everybody shift over," said Bartlett, who finished with 118 yards rushing and 142 passing. "I looked at my reads, and I saw the opening. I just took it down the sideline."

Covington said of Bartlett, "Ray's a good player, and he definitely drives our offense. We just have to keep doing those things."

Those three plays were only part of a collection of explosive plays by the Hawks on the evening.

Minutes after Banks' opening kickoff return, Bartlett capped a Greenfield drive with a 33-yard scoring scamper down the left sideline. The extra point from Sharif Othman made it 14-0 with 7 minutes, 38 seconds still left in the first quarter.

The Popes answered with a 67-yard scoring drive, featuring a 32-yard pass from quarterback Tylen Rhodes to Jonathan Lee and a 5-yard touchdown pass between the same two. The extra point was no good, leaving it at 14-6.

Donnie Reasby nearly duplicated Banks' feat on the ensuing kickoff, taking it back to the Pius 25, and one play later, Bartlett fired a rocket pass to Elijah Rosario in the right corner of the end zone. Othman's kick made it 21-6.

The Popes converted an interception into a 15-yard touchdown run by Rhodes to trim the deficit to 21-12 late in the first period.

They then drove to the Greenfield 2-yard line using a 66-yard pass from Rhodes to Lee, but Rhodes later fumbled inside the 1, and the Hawks recovered to stop that threat.

Bartlett followed with his 83-yard scoring run to put the Hawks up 27-12, then Greenfield recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, taking over at the Pius 37. The Hawks scored five plays later on a 1-yard burst by Bartlett.

Cunningham intercepts

On the next Pius possession, CJ Cunningham intercepted a pass and took it 45 yards down the sideline for a score that boosted the lead to 41-12.

Just before the half, the Hawks moved 90 yards to score on a 2-yard run from Denis Boyko and they were up 48-12 at the half.

In the second half, Bartlett hit a wide-open Jared Davis with a 47-yard touchdown pass and Banks ran back his second kickoff to cap the night.

"We've got a lot of weapons," Banks said, "and we try to use them to the best of our abilities and put people where they need to be to be successful."

The Hawks were hurt by penalties in the game, which did not escape the notice of Covington.

"We did a real good job as far as opening up (the game)," he said, "but there are still a lot of things we need to clean up as far as details, paying attention to the little things."

Greenfield opens defense of its Woodland Conference championship when it takes on South Milwaukee at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 2, on the Rockets' home field.

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