Rebels perform in clutch

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 21, 2011



RESERVE — Riverside had much turnover to its starting lineup entering this season. But the Rebels learning curve has been accelerated; in terms of significant snaps, Riverside may lead the state.

For the third straight game, the Rebels (2-1) played in a game that was not decided until the final seconds. This week RA bested Brusly, 30-27, clinching matters on a Evan Veron interception of Brusly quarterback Jay Christophe with 12 seconds to go in the fourth quarter.

“We’ve played three four quarter games,” said Riverside coach Mickey Roussel. “We knew, with our pre-district schedule, there would be no breathers. This helps you grow/. When you’re playing those barnburners in district, at the end of the season and in the playoffs, you’ve got experience in those situations.

“I’d obviously love to win 40-0 a couple times. But in the end, that’s why you play 40 minutes.”

C.J. Edler’s 34-yard field goal with 7:56 left in the game provided the winning points. That was set up when Rebel safety Lucas Martin blocked a punt, the second big special teams victory of the night for the Rebels — their first score came when Veron recovered a bad snap in the endzone on punt team.

“The special teams made the difference. We thought they could,” said Roussel. “Ten points came as a direct result of special teams, and we won by three. So when you do the math, you see the impact.”

Roussel was pleased with the progress of the offense, which had its most productive scoring output of the season. The coach said that he knew entering the season that an offense replacing nine starters could struggle early, making defensive and special teams play crucial to success.

Riverside has put consistent pressure on opposing punt teams this season, something he said opposing teams have become aware of.

“We try to block punts, and we have guys who want to do it,” said Roussel. “It puts added pressure on teams … You can always preach special teams play, but it’s always a big plus to be able to point to something on film and demonstrate to them the impact it can make. Friday night gave us a good example.”

This week, the spotlight shines on South Plaquemines as the Rebels go on the road to take on the perennial contender.

The Hurricanes (1-2) defeated Sojourner Truth Academy, 33-0, last week to garner their first win after losses to Belle Chasse and West St. John to begin the season.

Craig Laborde guides the team in his first year as head coach. SPHS operates out of its familiar spread, powered by dual threat quarterback Lorne Barthelemy.

“Our defense will have its hands full with Barthelemy,” said Roussel.

“With his speed, you have to account for 11 with him at quarterback. That puts pressure on the defense. We’ve got to not give up the big play and play solid assignment football … They’re getting a new system down with the coaching change. But we’re still going down there and we need to be well-prepared.”

Brusly controlled the ball Friday night at Riverside, outgaining the Rebels 395-212, including 235 yards on the ground. But despite having over 20 less offensive snaps than the Panthers, RA converted their opportunities into points.

Nate Williams gained 123 yards and two touchdowns on 11 total touches (103 rushing). Jonquial Sanders added 44 yards and a score on 13 rush attempts. Tate Scioneaux completed 7 of 16 passes for 57 yards and a score.

The Rebels won the turnover battle, two to one.

Riverside led 20-7 in the first half. Brusly rallied to tie the game at 20 on Sherrod Patterson’s 5-yard touchdown run. Scioneaux connected with Williams to put RA back ahead, but Brusly fired back on Christophe’s 75-yard touchdown pass to Patrick Crawford.

Though the opening game left the Rebels’ disappointed, Riverside stands as the ninth ranked team in Class 2A, and a play away from a 3-0 start.

“I feel good about where we are,” said Roussel. “Obviously I’d like to be 3-0. But at 2-1, wins over Salmen and Brusly, the way we’ve closed games … I’m confident we should be okay.”