Rebels back on track, now seek district crown

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, November 5, 2013


LAPLACE — It’s been 12 years since the Riverside Rebels have called themselves district champions.
But that changes with a win Friday night. Riverside is set to hit the road to take on Carver, and a Rebels victory would mean at least a share of the District 8-2A championship. Newman and Riverside (7-2, 5-1) each boast one district loss, Newman’s coming at the hands of the Rebels on Oct. 17.
“The kids are excited about it,” said Riverside coach Bill Stubbs. “We’ve been pushing to get to an ideal level of play all year long and we certainly want to finish up the regular season on a high note this Friday night. Our kids have a plethora of motivating factors to play and play well.”
After a hiccup against South Plaquemines, the Rebels have a new look offensively — and a new quarterback. Sophomore Herb McGee made his first career start at quarterback last week and led Riverside to a 62-7 victory over Sophie B. Wright. He completed 8 of 11 passes for 70 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions while rushing eight times for 60 yards and a touchdown. After starting quarterback Deuce Wallace suffered a broken leg in the Newman victory, McGee’s play served as a very welcome solution – if only temporary – in Reserve.
But perhaps just as importantly, the Rebels turned up the heat on their running game, rushing for 284 yards last week after struggling against South Plaquemines a week earlier.
“I certainly feel like our offensive line recommitted themselves,” said Stubbs. “An offensive line is always going to enjoy the idea of flexing your muscle and running the football. The things we’re able to do with Herb at quarterback adds some dynamics there, with him having his hands on the football every time. Being as athletic as he is, you have to respect his ability to run.”
Carver (4-4) bested Riverside a year ago, winning a 46-43 shootout at Pan American Stadium.
The Rebels have clearly come a long way since then, particularly defensively — Riverside has not once allowed over 40 points to an opposing offense this season, 32 points standing as its season-high point total against.
But Carver’s shown its capable of exploding on any given week, averaging 37 points per game and posting high scores of 72 and 60 points (against Fisher and Cohen respectively).
The Rams defeated St. James last week, taking a 20-12 victory that may have cemented a playoff spot.
Carver’s Rodney Major rushed for 89 yards in that game. Stubbs said that Major is the catalyst for the Rams’ offense.
“He’s explosive,” said Stubbs. “They want to put the ball in his hands, be it as a running back or at quarterback. They’ll run him out of the Wildcat. He’s their best overall player.”
Meanwhile, quarterback Quinton Matthews completed 7 of 15 passes for 137 yards.
“They like to take their shots deep,” said Stubbs. “They’ve got him, and a couple of very, very fast backs. Not oversized kids, but they can hit the big play. They’ve got a great fullback.’
“They’ve been up and down, but I chalk that up to youth. They’ve suffered for their relative inexperience, but you can see it’s a team that’s just gotten better and better.”
Riverside will attempt to establish the run again on Friday. Kendall Martin has emerged as a new weapon in the backfield after moving to running back from quarterback. Martin scored three times last week.
“When we stuck him back there, we began to realize and see that this is a kid with great vision and acceleration, who is very, very shifty. He’s got a lot of natural running ability.’
“When you look at him, at Hardell Mack and DeAndre Wilson, we’ve got three guys to carry the load. And we’re expecting to get Brandon Sanders back within the next couple of weeks. So to have a full group of guys that we can rotate in there and see produce, it’s a nice situation for us to find ourselves in.”