Rams & Rebels face off this Friday in Reserve
RESERVE — The last time Riverside Academy and West St. John met on the football field in November 2019, the Rams offense came up big, scored 30 points in a single quarter and ended the night with a 56-27 win.
Riverside Academy Coach Kevin Dizer remembers that night all too well. It could be a different story this time around as the Rams and the Rebels prepare to face off in a district match this Friday, Nov. 13.
Having a home field advantage could help the Rebels this time around, and the bottom line is Riverside is a much stronger team this year. The Rebels entered the week with a 4-1 record after last Friday’s 48-21 district win against St. Martin’s. Their only loss of the season came in a powerful punch from the undefeated Newman Greenies.
“We are happy to be 5-1. I think we should be 6-0 but when you compare everything to last year, we’ve gotten better in pretty much every aspect of the game,” Dizer said. “I’m not disappointed in where we are. You have to just keep getting better into the playoffs and win district before that.”
Dizer is anticipating a good atmosphere and friendly competition on Friday night.
“Riverside and West St. John have a rivalry that certainly pre-dates my time here,” Dizer said. “West St. John hasn’t played in a couple of weeks, so I think they will be excited to play and they’ll be hungry to get back on track with wins. It will be a good high school environment, and I think it will be a hard-fought game on both sides.”
West St. John has had a rougher season in 2020 and currently holds a 1-3 record. That doesn’t mean it’s time to count out the Rams; the team is hungry for some football action after last week’s district opener was cancelled due to a Country Day player testing positive for COVID-19. It marked the second consecutive week without a game, and Coach Brandon Walters is looking forward to getting back to business.
“The last two weeks, we’ve been preparing for Country Day. We’re switching gears now,” Walters said. “It’s Riverside up next. We’ll start preparing for them and breaking down film, watching what’s going on with them, and continue to work.”
With only two district games in store this year, it is essential for West St. John to bolster its record with two district wins to end the regular season. After Riverside, the Rams are slated to appear in a district contest against St. Martin’s.
“We have to win our last two games. We’ll see where we fall in the state. We’ve had a rough year so far, but we still have our lofty dreams, and we’re going to fight for it. Hopefully we can still take care of business in the district,” Walters said.
“We know Riverside will be a formidable opponent, but we’ll be ready to play. Our guys will definitely be hungry after having all of this time off. At the very least, it gives us some time to rest up and heal up some of the guys who may have had some bumps and bruises.”
West St. John has won state championships in 1993, 2003, 2004 and, most recently, 2017. The 2020 team is extremely young, so the Rams have leaned heavily on the experience of veteran players such as Keajean Kindrick, Jason August, Kailep Edwards, Jakobe Lewis, Jaydon Hamilton and Devin Hall.
Other college prospects include R’Khoby Robeson, Troy Jasmin, Ferdinand Young and Ronde Wilson.
Riverside Academy packs its own share of offensive and defensive weapons.
One notable standout is senior quarterback Gage Larvadain, who boosted the Rebels to a speedy 7-0 lead against St. Martin’s last week on a 53-yard run from the opening play. Elijah Davis followed with his own 55-yard run to add another touchdown for the Rebels in the first quarter. Larvadain and Davis repeated their magic to bring the score to 27 Rebels, 0 Saints by the end of the first quarter.
Emmanuel Franklin, Luke Hymel, Terrell Hillard and Andre Murphy also stepped up for the Rebels in the game against St. Martin’s, which ended in a 48-21 win for Riverside Academy.
“We did end up losing a few guys, but we came out pretty healthy. We were happy to get the win and move on,” Dizer said. “St. Martin’s ran the ball well and they played extremely hard, and I thought it was a difficult place to play on the road. They definitely presented some challenges there.”