Roussel encouraged by Rebels’ spring

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 21, 2011



RESERVE — Riverside’s going to have a new look this fall on the football field with the graduation of Class 2A Offensive Player of the Year Darnell Rachal and a slew of seniors that powered the highest-scoring offense in Rebels history and to 10-3 season that ended in the state quarterfinals.

But as the spring came to its conclusion Thursday at Riverside’s spring game, coach Mickey Roussel was optimistic about the talent that remains on hand for his Rebels.

“We lost a pretty talented senior class, no doubt about it,” said Roussel. “Our main areas of concern come on the offensive and defensive lines. We had a lot of experience that graduated and we need to solidify who our top players are there … We got a good look at things in the spring game and we have film on everything to evaluate. So it’s an area of concern, but while we have a ways to go, I saw some good things.”

The task of replacing the ultra-productive Rachal at quarterback will fall upon Tate Scioneaux, who has had his own successes with the Rebels as starter as an All-District safety.

“Tate’s been in the system for awhile now, and he’s run our offense well,” said Roussel. “Athletically, he can do some good things. He’s very valuable on defense so we might opt for something of a committee at times there.

“But the cupboard’s not bare. We should still be pretty good offensively.”

Riverside’s current spread offense was adopted midway through the 2008 season.

The Rebels scrapped the Wing-T they had installed that preseason to better take advantage of the talents of Rachal, who transferred and quickly took over as quarterback that summer.

Though he is gone, Roussel said Riverside will still do many of the same things on offense, though it won’t be a carbon copy.

“We probably won’t be running the quarterback 20 times a game,” said Roussel. “Others will share that load, and we have guys that can do it. We’re pretty flexible in what we do.”

New Louisiana High School Athletic Association rules prohibit teams from playing another school for its spring game. That wasn’t bad news to Roussel though, who said he believes in the benefits of an intrasquad scrimmage. That, in fact, is how the Rebels’ spring game has been run under the veteran coach’s watch for years.

“I find when you play someone else, you aren’t accomplishing the things that we set out to do in the spring,” said Roussel. “We want to give the kids a lot of individual opportunities and attention, to refine our fundamentals.”

Behind Scioneaux looks to be a backfield headlined by Jonquial Sanders and Nate Williams. Sanders is a transfer who sat out last season, and Roussel expects big things. Williams rushed for 500 yards last season and should carry much more of the load this season — Roussel said that he could see up to 18 carries a game.

“He can expect a much bigger workload offensively. Last year he probably played the most snaps for us, starting at corner and playing on offense. This year, he’s a real key player on both sides.”

Grady Gieger, fresh off of a strong showing in the spring game, should provide quality depth.

But Gieger’s first priority will come on defense, where he is the team’s middle linebacker and defensive leader.

On the defensive line, Roussel said that Wren Vicknair brings experience and will be counted on to key things up front. The offensive line, meanwhile, brings back center Heath Robinson, who kicks out to guard this season.

“That looks like a good situation (for Robinson)” Roussel said on the move. “Wren had a very, very good showing in the spring game.

Scioneaux and Williams are both returning starters in the secondary, at safety and corner respectively.

An influx of players from the school’s championship basketball team also stood out at the spring game as twins Trevon Woods (quarterback), Trevin Woods (wide receiver), Lucas Martin (wide receiver) and John Lewis (wide receiver-slot back) each contributed to big touchdown scoring plays.