Fresh off O.T. Salmen win, Rebels look to top Brusly

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 14, 2011



RESERVE — Riverside coach Mickey Roussel’s chief concern last week was how his team would handle playing its second game, coming off of a heartbreaking loss at Loranger a week prior. That the Rebels’ opponent in their home opener was a talented 4A squad in Salmen just created added pressure.

But Roussel’s team stepped up Friday night, securing a dramatic 15-9 victory in overtime over the Spartans in front of a thrilled Riverside crowd, evening the Rebels’ record and setting their season on course once again.

“Really, against anybody we played, I thought it could be difficult after how our first game played out,” said Roussel. “Playing a team like Salmen just added to that. Our kids really practiced well all week. Our defense kept the score down … in fact they didn’t give up an offensive touchdown. We allowed nine points overall, and that’s doing plenty enough for us to win.

“It’s just a big win for us. I can’t say enough about the way we played.”

The Rebels will look for a similar output against Class 3A Brusly, which will visit Riverside this Friday sporting a 2-0 record.

Brusly is coached by a former Roussel assistant in Erik Willis, who coached Riverside’s offensive line in the mid 90s. Willis had much success at St. John-Plaquemines, taking that school to two state championships, and is in his second season at Brusly. Already, the Panthers have two wins; Brusly won just three a year ago, indicating Willis has his program trending in the right direction.

“He’s a very good coach, someone I’m very familiar with. Those kids will buy in to what he says,” said Roussel. “We went up there and scored a lot of points in our win last year. I’m sure that’s going to serve as bulletin board material. They’re coming for revenge.”

Fifteen starters return for Brusly, including nine on offense to power the team’s Wing-T option attack.

“You don’t see a lot of (the Wing-T) anymore, so it’s something we’ll need to do a good job preparing for. Defensively, they’re very aggressive.”

Brusly won 26-6 over Baker last week to move to 2-0. The Panther defense forced five turnovers.

There were plenty of heroes last week for Riverside.

Jonquial Sanders led the Rebel ground attack, rushing 13 times for 53 yards and one very key touchdown — his 4-yard score in overtime sealed the Rebels’ win, after the Riverside (1-1) defense allowed Salmen no yards on the Spartans’ opening possession. Riverside deferred after winning the toss and the strategy proved fruitful; Salmen would not score on four plays from the Rebel 10, its final play resulting in a miscue on an attempted field goal.

Riverside led 7-6 early on Nate Williams’ (12 carries for 49 yards) 2-yard touchdown run, then 9-6 on a safety after the Rebels’ downed a punt inside the Salmen 1. Devin Montelongo booted a 34-yard field goal to force the eventual overtime in the fourth quarter, but Salmen would not score again.

Defensively, it was the latest in a series of strong performances for the Rebels. Including the jamboree, Riverside has allowed just 16 points in three contests. Six of those points came as a result of Salmen’s interception return for a score in Friday night’s game, meaning just 10 points have come with the Rebel defense on the field.

Seniors Grady Gieger and Lucas Martin have been among the team’s defensive standouts thus far this season.

Roussel said the team’s formula has not come by accident.

“Before the season, I knew that, especially early, we’d have to play good defense, and we’d have to be very good on special teams,” he said. “Then hope the offense comes along. We did enough on offense to win. Now, we made some mistakes. But they’re happening less and less.”