Riverside bounces back with 43-0 shutout, looks to maintain momentum

Published 11:07 pm Sunday, September 17, 2023

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RESERVE — Last Friday’s 43-0 shutout against Central Catholic was promising, but head football coach Lee Roussel said Riverside Academy has a lot of work to do to become playoff contenders.

The first three weeks of play have revealed an abundance of penalties and room for improvement in all phases of the game. However, the early season has also brought pleasant surprises from young team members who continuously rise to the occasion.

The 2023 season opened on a positive note with a 55-18 win on the road against St. Thomas Aquinas. After struggling early in the game on defense, Riverside stepped up on both sides of the ball and had some explosive plays in the pass game. Running back Dedric Lastie rushed for more than 200 yards on 14 carries and had four touchdowns, three of which occurred in a span of five minutes. Quarterback Brock Bourgeois also added a pair of touchdown passes.

Week two was a different story when Riverside Academy fell to perennial powerhouse Isidore Newman 33-7. While defense kept the Rebels hanging on in the first half, offensive play left a lot to be desired. Riverside racked up 15 penalties, including one for unsportsmanlike conduct. Roussel said the team did not practice effectively Monday through Wednesday in week two, and the outcome was a reflection of poor preparation.

The Rebels were home again in week three against Central Catholic.

“I thought we played our most complete game in all three phases against Central Catholic,” Roussel said. “We talked about going into week three and putting all phases of the game together, and I thought we did that. We started off slow with the first two possessions on offense, but after that we did a good job of special teams. We made some good stops and put some pressure on some of the punts.”

Riverside missed out on some opportunities in the first quarter, losing the first two possessions of the game on a bad exchange and a penalty. Eighth grader Kenrick Johnson came in clutch at quarterback with three consecutive drives and big pass plays in the second quarter. The lead was extended to 21-0 in the first half before the Rebels put the game away in the second, ending the night with a 43-0 shutout.

Johnson has previously started at the receiver position and has proved himself to be a versatile athlete.

“This past week, he played a majority of the game at quarterback and created a little spark and momentum. He’s going to be a really special player. He’s an eighth grader who’s not only starting on Friday, but also making plays,” Roussel said.

Lastie had another good game with more than 160 yards and three touchdowns. “He’s kind of been the skill guy on offense that got us going,” Roussel said.

Amiree Alexander and Ahmad Cage have been key components of the offensive line in the early season. Cage was recognized as player of the week against the Eagles with four solo tackles and multiple tackles for loss.

Next up on the schedule is a road game against Houma Christian.

“We played them last year at home and got off to a really fast start. I’m hoping we can do the same this year,” Roussel said.

He acknowledged it could be a challenge since Houma Christian is senior-laden and improved from last year. The Warriors, like the Rebels, are 2-1 for the 2023 season after earning a 49-15 win last Friday against Ascension Christian.

“I feel good about it, but they can beat us,” Roussel said. “We’ve got to take care of ourselves, take care of the football, and we’ve got to eliminate penalties.”