Riverside ready to take on Ascension Catholic in playoffs

Published 10:30 am Wednesday, November 16, 2022

LAPLACE — While Riverside Academy entered the playoffs with a 9-1 record and a first-round bye, head coach Lee Roussel spent last Friday night watching Ascension Catholic in action to gauge how to best prepare for this week’s game.

The Bulldogs are hot off a 49-6 bi-district win against Lincoln Preparatory School. Their No. 10 seeding comes in behind Riverside’s No. 7 placement, but Roussel knows those numbers will mean very little when the two teams clash at 7 p.m. Friday night at the Mickey Roussel Stadium.

Roussel was impressed with Ascension Catholic’s size on both sides of the line of scrimmage.

“They’ve got some big kids on the offensive and defensive line, and they are really good at the skilled position,” Roussel said.

He added that Riverside will have to be vigilant when facing Ascension Catholic’s twin quarterback-receiver duo Bryce and Brooks Leonard.

“You’re looking at a team that’s 8-2, but those two losses came within five points against Episcopal and Dunham, two very good 9-1 football teams,” Roussel said. “It’s going to be a good test, but once you get down to 16 teams in the playoffs, everybody is good. It will be one of the better opponents we’ve played since earlier in the season.”

Riverside Academy has been firing on all cylinders this season with a nearly unblemished record. After losing to Newman in the second game of the season, the Rebels embarked on an eight-game winning streak that has spanned from September through November. Among the victories were four high-scoring shutouts against Houma Christian, West St. John, Varnado and Crescent City.

“We made improvements on the offensive line and continued to get better at that position,” Roussel said. “When you have a running back like Elijah Davis, we knew going into the season how good of a player he was. It helps when you are creating some holes and doing some things up front to get him going. We’ve been very efficient in the passing game. Luke Hymel has done a nice job, and we’ve had some guys outside that have made some plays for us.”

Roussel gives the same praise to the defense. The Rebels defense gave up only 13 points in the second half of the regular season, and even some of the inexperienced seventh graders have proven themselves to be first team all-district players.

A win against Ascension Catholic Friday night would send the Rebels to the quarterfinals to face the winner of Friday’s game between No. 2 Central Catholic and No. 15 Opelousas Catholic.