Poor first half brings end to Rebels season at Many

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Sports Editor

A rocky start doomed Riverside Friday night, as the No. 26-seeded Rebels saw their season at the hands of Many on Friday night, 36-12 winners of a Class 2A bi-district playoff game.

Many, the No. 7 seed in 2A, will host Rosepine on Friday night in the regional round.

A Riverside (4-6) fumble on the second play of the game turned into quick points for the Tigers, who would race out to a 29-0 halftime lead.

“It not only gave them an early lead, but it gave them the momentum,” said Riverside Coach Tim Taffi. “They’ve got a lot of good athletes, and we were behind the eight-ball all night.”

Many quarterback D.J. Palmer threw four first half touchdowns, and led drives of 25, 86, 60 and 52 yards to put Many in the driver’s seat for good.

Many (10-1) converted a number of key third downs, which Taffi notes may have served to demoralize his defense.

“We didn’t play our pass coverages very well,” Taffi said. “They’re a big time running team. But when you do well on first and second down, and give it up on third, you’ve got to start all over. It’s deflating.”

Sophomore quarterback Darnell Rachal completed 7-of-20 passes for 114 yards and a touchdown. He also carried 19 times for 76 yards on the ground. Thomas Crouch ran 11 times and gained 87 yards. Senior Bobby Smith hauled in three receptions for 93 yards.

But much of that production came after Many built its lead, and the Rebels lacked enough time to come all the way back.

“We really didn’t get our offense going until the second half,” said Taffi. “They play a very aggressive style, blitzing every play. When someone does that, you’ve got to make them pay, and we didn’t do a good job of it until later on.”

Riverside got on the board for the first time after Smith intercepted a Palmer pass at the Rebel 28. Remi Poirrier capped a 15-play drive with a 2-yard touchdown plunge that made it 29-6 at the end of the third quarter.

The Rebels capitalized on another turnover in the fourth quarter, this time when Jesse Malbrough intercepted another Palmer offering at the Riverside 31. On the fifth play of the drive, Rachal connected with Smith for a 40-yard touchdown to make it 29-12.

But there wasn’t enough time for that momentum to add up. Many added one final score, and held on for the win.

Taffi, after completing his first season as the Rebels’ head coach, says the year should prove to be a valuable learning experience for next season, as a number of key players will return.

Just as importantly, the Rebels should be more comfortable and confident in their roles within the system of Taffi and his staff.

“Now, they’ve played their positions before, they know what it’s all about,” Taffi says. “They can start refining things and focus on the finer points. That should lead to a much better performance.”