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Rebels coming off near-perfect victory

MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / November 18, 1998

RESERVE – The hardest playoff game to win is often the first one.

Riverside got the first one out of the way last Friday with an impressive 50-8 victory over Springfield. The win improved the Rebels to 11-0 on theseason and advanced them to the regional playoffs where they will host Pope John Paul II Friday night. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m.”Nobody has put together a perfect game but we came close,” Riverside coach Mickey Roussel said. “We took control of the line of scrimmage onthe first drive and wore them down as the game wore on. We executed verywell. The first playoff game may be the toughest. It sets the tone.”The Rebels gained over 500 yards in total offense, with 409 of those yards coming on the ground. Casey Remondet, following the holes opened by hisoffensive line, carried 23 times for 157 yards and caught three passes for 71 yards, scoring five touchdowns on the night. Rusty Richard and BrandonDelaneuville added touchdown runs.

The Riverside defense allowed 201 yards to Springfield but held the Bulldogs off the scoreboard until the final quarter and forced three turnovers.

The Rebels will be facing a Pope John Paul II team that defeated Patterson, 9-7, despite gaining just 131 yards in offense. The defensekept the Jaguars in the game, allowing 237 yards but forcing three turnovers. Stephen Graham kicked a 49-yard field goal and quarterbackMatt Lusk set up a touchdown with a 66-yard sneak. Lusk then threw a 11-yard pass to Luke Calamari for the game winner with less than five minutes remaining.

Pope John Paul improved to 9-1 with the victory. The Jaguars placedsecond in District 8-2A behind Loranger during the regular season and are making their third-straight trip to the playoffs.

The Jaguars are similar to the Rebels in that both run the wing-T on offense and a variation of the 50 on defense. It will be the third straightweek the Rebels will face a wing-T team following St. Martin’s andSpringfield.

On offense, the Jaguars are led by their rushing attack of Brandon Donnelly and Sam Francis. Francis was among the area leaders in Class 2A duringthe regular season with 157 carries for 842 yards and seven touchdowns.

Lusk, a sophomore, took over at quarterback after last year’s district MVP, Sean Donnelly, graduated. Receivers include junior Chris McIellan andsenior Jared Tauzier as well as sophomore tight end Will Lewis. Lusk willbe operating behind an inexperienced offensive line that returned just one starter.

The strength of the Jaguars’ defense comes on the line. Tackle MattColosino led the team in tackles and sacks this season and had 3.5 sacks inthe playoff opener. Colosino is joined by defensive end Franc Hemphill, afirst-team all-District selection a year ago, on the left side.

“Up front, they are pretty good,” Roussel said. “It should be a challengeagain for the offensive line.”Roussel said at this point in the playoffs, everybody is good and that it comes down to will and determination.

“You have to be able to accept and deal with pressure and execute,” Roussel said. “You have to keep fresh and keep focus. Everybody is going tobe good. It is more will and more mental now. It may be all mental at thispoint. We have to be able to execute and make sure we are in it for thelong haul.”The winner will play the winner of the Newman-Iota in the quarterfinals next Friday.

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