Stubbs ready for first season at Riverside

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, August 14, 2012




RESERVE — Beyond a winning season, beyond a district crown or a string of playoff victories, new Riverside football coach Bill Stubbs has one goal that he puts above all else for the 2012 season.

“Football players!” Stubbs exclaimed. “I want football players. I know that sounds simple, but it’s not.”

Stubbs inherits a strong football program from former longtime coach Mickey Roussel, who stepped down from the perch earlier this year. The Rebels followed back to back trips to the state quarterfinals with a first round victory and regional round finish in 2011.

But the 2012 edition of the Rebels will be very young, with most of the starting lineup turning over from a year ago. So while Stubbs and his staff are not tasked with rebuilding a program from the ground up, instilling the proper mentality in his young players is the order of the day.

“As a football player, you either hit or get hit. The good football players do the hitting,” said Stubbs. “These guys have all of the tools at their disposal. I’ve been pushing every button I can. But right now, I need to see more.”

The Rebel defense, specifically, is where the veteran coach said that he needs to see a major improvement, beginning with the team’s scrimmage Thursday night at St. Thomas Aquinas. While returning defensive line starter James Sledge has shown consistency, few others are where they currently need to be.

So he has laid out a challenge.

“It’s not about X’s and O’s,” he said. “They’ve got to bring the wood.”

Offensively, the Rebels will lean upon senior running back Jonquial Sanders and freshman quarterback Deuce Wallace.

Sanders led the Rebels in rushing last season, splitting time with fellow standout rusher Nate Williams.

“I think when he gets to the second level, he becomes pretty dangerous,” said Stubbs. “Our job is to find ways to get him the ball in open space, where he can be at his best.”

Wallace, meanwhile, drew plenty of the coach’s praise during the spring, and he said that the young passer is still on schedule.

“He’s progressing quite well,” said Stubbs. “He’s starting to understand a little more and you can see him gaining confidence. Very important, because confidence breeds  success.”

Stubbs has been pleased with his prospective top targets as well. Herb McGee, Peyton Falgoust, Von Julien and Jacob Venus are among those Stubbs said have looked promising over the last few weeks. The offensive line, he also noted, has been coming together.

Riverside will begin the season with a pair of tough matchups with Loranger and Salmen — the latter pitting Stubbs against the team he coached to a pair of state championships in the 90’s.

Stubbs is optimistic that things will come together in time for those games, but said that ultimately it will come down to the will of his players.

“They’ve got everything tangible going for them,” said Stubbs. “Maybe we could be a little stronger, but being mentally strong can overcome a lot of weaknesses.

“We need guys to step up for us, and we’re not there yet. If guys don’t make that commitment, we’ll struggle. But if they embrace it, there’s no telling how far we can go.”