Rebels football program steps up over the summer

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 16, 2022

LAPLACE — Emerging from successful spring and summer, Riverside Academy’s football program is poised to bring a new energy to the field this year under the direction of first-year head coach Lee Roussel.

Since arriving at Riverside in December 2021, Roussel has been impressed with how the kids have adapted and embraced the new staff.

This year’s team of coaches has experience at both the high school and collegiate level. Roussel, who most recently served as offensive line coach at Nicholls, is joined by defensive coach Chris Lachney, who previously coached at Southeastern. The Rebels’ leadership will also include a host of young coaches who have played and coached at a high level.

Shortly after Roussel transitioned to head coach, the Rebels hit the weight room and got to work running on the field. Between January and May, Roussel saw some big jumps in the weight room, not just in numbers and max outs, but also in tempo and effort.

“It’s the little things that it takes to win games, and I think winning games starts in there. I was pleased with the growth I saw,” Roussel said.

Riverside got in 10 practices across three weeks as Spring football rolled around.

“Again, I was pleased with the buy in and the effort. We waited until baseball, basketball and track & field we’re over because a lot of our football players are multi-sport athletes,” Roussel said. “There are still things to clean up, but I wasn’t expecting it to be a finished product the first week out there. I thought they were coachable. I thought they grasped the offense and defense and the things that we installed.”

Through the months of June and July, the Rebels have worked out four days a week, Monday through Thursday. While most days have an emphasis on weight training and speed, Wednesdays have been football-oriented. Three weeks of 7-on-7 football brought the Rebels in contact with schools including Terrebonne, West St. John, Centerville and Houma Christian.

When Riverside hosted 7-on-7 at home, it opened the opportunity to continue installing blitz packages and make adjustments in formations.

One key addition to the team this year is Scott White, a 6’1”, 235-pound tight end and outside linebacker.

“He’s a strong, physical kid. He’s probably come out as the strongest guy in the weight room, and now there’s a new standard. On top of it, he’s a good football player,” Roussel said.

Riverside Academy will return running back Elijah Davis, a Nicholls commit who proved to be a valuable asset to the Rebels during the 2021 season. At 5’11” and 215 pounds, Davis is a big running back who is quick on his feet, evidenced by his success in track.

Roussel said the quarterbacks are also having a good summer.

“Luke Hymel was a really good shortstop for our baseball team. I’ve seen some growth on him from spring football to our 7-on-7s in the summer, so I’m excited to see him in the fall,” Roussel said.

Roussel is eager to see the successes of the summer translate onto the field this fall.

“I’m excited, and hopefully this carries over to the season with some wins,” he said. “I don’t have a doubt that it can be done because it was done not long ago when they were competing for championships.”

Roussel has always understood the importance of River Parish football. Since coming to Riverside, he’s gained a greater appreciation for the school’s role in the community.

“There are people who don’t have a kid there, don’t work there, who are retired and are there all the time. It’s not everywhere that you find people who just love the school and want to invest their time there,” Roussel said.