Ramstein air attack grounds Kaiserslautern

Story and photos by Thomas Warner
contributing writer

Marcus Bradley (52) and other Ramstein defenders combine to stop Kaiserslautern runner Corey Coombs.

Ramstein showed off explosive passing plays Saturday against Kaiserslautern to kick off the 2018 season. The opener saw the Royals score four times through the air in a 37-8 win on the RHS campus.

Quarterback Jakob Steinbeck ran for a touchdown and was accurate on several long pass plays, hooking up with wideouts Jason Jones and Naser Eaves for three of the scores. J.J. Little threw a halfback pass for another score and Dominique Arizpe scored on a run. Steinbeck was 9-of-13 passing and amassed 213 passing yards in a game where RHS (1-0) built a 32-0 halftime lead enroute to the win.

“I liked seeing our offense driving down the field, using multiple formations and still being productive,” Ramstein coach Carter Hollenbeck said. “Jakob was doing a great job of moving the pocket and hitting receivers.”

J.J. Little had two interceptions and threw a touchdown pass along with carrying for several gains in Ramstein’s win.

Ramstein is playing with several new interior players after historically relying on establishment of a run game to base its attack. Bailey Holland, Arizpe and others ran effectively at times but passes were used to break most of the big plays.

“We might not be as strong on the line but we are quicker this year,” said senior offensive tackle Solomon Udoaka. “We opened some holes but we can always improve. We basically have all new guys in positions up front so we weren’t perfect, but it’s a good start for our championship run.”

Kaiserslautern (0-1) was most impressive on the ground as senior tailback Corey Coombs ran for 90 yards on 17 carries. Coombs, Solo Turgeon and Cedric Ellis each had respectable senior season debuts but the ability of the Royals to convert several third-down plays and overall stiffness of the Ramstein defense carried the day.

“We’ve got to get back and look at film and I’ve got to score some of the time or those runs don’t matter as much,” said Coombs. “They hit us hard in the first quarter and we weren’t ready for it. We buckled down for the second half and did some things.”

Little ran the ball some but was most effective on defense, gathering two interceptions to anchor the Ramstein defense along with Holland, Katroy Wright, Logan Ridenbaugh, Kyle Lloyd and others. Little, Eaves and Jones all made hits in the defensive secondary and Cameron Chester played feisty with several contact plays. Plans and strategies will evolve for both teams after another week of practice.

Jakob Steinbeck was productive at quarterback, with three touchdown throws and over passing 200 yards.

“We had a few problems here and there with communication but our run game will be back next week and in the future,” Eaves said. “We are always going to be able to go to our run game. It’s just going to make it harder on defenses if our quarterback has a lot of options.”

Kaiserslautern drove immediately starting the second half thanks to runs from Coombs and calm leadership by quarterback Esteban Saldana. The drive stalled inside the red zone but it was at least an indication of new coach Duke Allen’s system showing signs of working. Later, the Raiders got on the board with a touchdown from Xavier Chambers and a two-point conversion.

Kaiserslautern will play Ramstein again at the end of the regular season and this first game did not officially count as a division game. Both teams explore bigger challenges on Saturday with Ramstein hosting Stuttgart in a rematch of last year’s championship game and Kaiserslautern also at home against Lakenheath.