Riverside at Newman

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, October 14, 2014


Much like last season, a district championship won’t officially be decided when Riverside and Newman square off Friday night in New Orleans. But, in all likelihood, the District 8-2A crown is exactly what is on the line.

Last season, Riverside and Newman played in one of the most memorable games of the 2013 season, a 35-28 victory the Rebels clinched on Evan Veron’s interception of Newman quarterback Jay Tyler on the game’s final, untimed play at the RA 3-yard line.

It was a battle between the No. 1 (Newman) and No. 2 ranked teams in Class 2A. Defending their home field, Riverside jumped all over the Greenies early, leading 35-7 at one point. But Newman rallied to score 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to force a classic finish. Riverside played the second half of that game without then-starting quarterback Deuce Wallace, who suffered a broken leg in the first half.

This time, Riverside (6-0, 3-0) is ranked No. 3 in the LSWA Class 2A poll; Newman (6-0, 3-0), No. 6. Neither team has lost a game, a distinction that will be different for one by Saturday morning.

“I think our kids really look forward to these types of matchups,” Riverside coach Bill Stubbs said. “I think they’ll rise to the occasion. The last few years, this game has always come down to the wire. We’re going on the road and treating it like a business trip.”

Both teams eye championship glory with a dose of redemption in 2014. Riverside and Newman were each upset in the first round of the Division III postseason last year despite lofty expectations.

This time around, the Rebels won’t have Wallace for any of the four quarters. But this time around, that seems just fine. Freshman quarterback Jordan Loving has commanded a super-charged offense as the team’s new starter. Likewise, Newman boasts a different starting quarterback as well, the Greenies leaning on Miles Lapeyre. Riverside averages 51.8 points per game, Newman 46.8.

While standout tailback Kendall Bussey is always on the defensive radar, Stubbs said Tyler now offers an entirely different set of problems than a year ago.

“Obviously, at quarterback he touched the ball every play,” Stubbs said. “But that was in the box. Now, you put him outside. You get him in space, one-on-one. We need to have an eye on him at all times. He’s very dangerous.”

Last week, Newman generated some late-game heroics to escape host St. James with a victory. The Wildcats took a 30-25 lead with just under two minutes left, but Tyler’s kickoff return into SJH territory and an ensuing Wildcats penalty helped set up a Lapeyre to Elbert Thomas game-winning touchdown pass with 47 seconds left.

Riverside has a comeback win of its own on the resume, its 36-30 victory at Evangel in Week One. The Rebels haven’t played a game as close since then, winning by margins of 34, 23, 30, 60 and 64 over the past five weeks. Riverside has scored at least 62 points in each of the last three weeks.

Stubbs said his team is hardly intimidated by going on the road to Newman, despite its reputation as a tough place to win.

“This is the first time we’ve gone there (in Stubbs’ three-year tenure),” he said. “I couldn’t speak on that, but then I couldn’t on (road venues) St. James, West St. John or Evangel this season, either. I don’t think the change of venue matters to our kids. Their attitude, I think, is find us a parking lot and we’ll play it there.”