Rebels, Cavs to determine finals berth

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, November 25, 2014

By Ryan Arena

RESERVE — Riverside began the 2014 season with a trip up to north Louisiana and returning with a major program-boosting victory at Evangel.

This week, the Rebels travel up north again. If they can repeat that Week One feat, they’ll play for the Division III state championship.

But getting to that championship game won’t be easy: Riverside will have to pin the champ. Defending Division III champion Calvary Baptist awaits the Rebels in a matchup of two of the state’s most well-rounded teams.

The Cavaliers (10-1), the second seed in Division III, have lost one game this season, a 42-13 decision to undefeated Byrd. Two weeks later, Calvary Baptist went on to defeat West Monroe, 27-20. Since then, it’s been complete domination: CBA outscored its five district opponents 219-35, followed by a bye week and a 59-21 victory over Dunham in the playoffs.

Riverside (12-0) has yet to taste defeat and rides into this game on a high note after turning back the team that knocked them out of the postseason a year ago, St. Thomas Aquinas, 34-6. Riverside has decisive wins over West St. John, St. James and Newman to its credit, a trio of teams who have a combined 27-7 record and are all still alive in the postseason.

Both teams boast prolific offenses. But the matchup that most determines the outcome may well be what Riverside coach Bill Stubbs has preached all along: the Riverside defense is the key and must come up big against the Calvary Baptist offense, both units as hot as they’ve been all season.

Calvary is averaging 57.3 points per game over its last six games; Riverside has allowed just 41 total points over its last eight games.

Irresistible force, meet immovable object.

“We’re playing at a very high level defensively right now, and it’s certainly where you want to be at this time of year,” Stubbs said. “To be able to defend a team like Calvary Baptist, with the weapons they possess, you really have to execute. Those first couple of steps in whatever you do are going to make a big difference. The things we teach and drill every day, this is why we put that work in.”

QuarterbackShea Patterson is the biggest name on a Cavaliers team full of them. After leading his team to the state crown last season in a rout over Hannan, Patterson has topped 2,000 yards passing this season and already, as a sophomore, is an Arizona commitment. Patterson reportedly received an offer from Alabama this week.

“He’s very, very gifted,” Stubbs said. “He’s a smart kid who doesn’t put them in bad situations. He’s able to create with his legs. He’s not as accurate on the move, but he can get outside and get it up the field.

“If you upset his rhythm, that’ll determine how successful you are. If you don’t, it’s going to be a long night.”

His favorite receiver is Shun Brown, who broke the school’s single-season receiving touchdowns record in last week’s victory with two scoring catches. Running back Orlando Bradford rushed for 187 yards and three scores last week.

Defensively, the Cavaliers are “loaded with talent,” Stubbs said.

“They’ve got a very good defensive end and three defensive backs, all have multiple Division I offers,” he said.

It’ll be a long trip to Shreveport for Riverside, but not an unfamiliar one. In addition to the Rebels opening week victory, RA captured a 56-8 win over Homer (an hour outside of Shreveport) two years ago in the opening round of the 2012 postseason, in Stubbs’ first season as coach.

“We’ve made that trip two of the past three years,” Stubbs said. “I think our kids will handle it well.