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Riverside looks to make most of only eight regular-season games

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  • George Becnel
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  • May 03, 2017 - 7:23pm

File photosThe Riverside Academy Rebels' non-district schedule includes the likes of Southern Lab, Barbe, Rummel and De La Salle.


The Riverside Academy Rebels will have to make the most of limited opportunities in 2017.

Scheduling confusion has left the defending Division III state champions with only eight regular-season games.

An odd number of teams in District 11-2A meant an open date in league play. For Riverside, the open date fell in Week 10, so the Rebels opted not to fill the date a week leading into the start of the playoffs.

Riverside also has an open date in Week 4 the Rebels are still trying to fill.

The midseason opening occurred due to an error on the dating of the contract involving games between Riverside, West St. John and Plaquemine. The intention was for West St. John and Riverside to play Week 4 and Plaquemine on Week 5.

Both contracts were for the same date of September 22 (Week 4). Because the contract between West St. John and Plaquemine was signed a week before the WSJ-Plaquemine contract, the Louisiana High School Athletic Association ruled the WSJ-Plaquemine game would stand in Week 4, nullifying the WSJ-Riverside game.

Consequently, West St. John is without a Week 5 opponent but has a total of nine playing dates.

The intention was for West St. John and Riverside Week 4 and Plaquemine Week 5.

“We decided to leave (Week 10) open and it gives us a chance in case you have any injuries to heal up or go on the road and see some playoff opponents but now we have two off weeks. We thought we were helping ourselves out, but had we known we would have gotten into a bad situation (with no Week 4 game), I would have filled it,” said first-year Riverside head coach Chris Lachney.

The defensive coordinator of Riverside’s state championship team, Lachney was named head coach in place of Bill Stubbs, who retired after last season’s title run.

Even with only eight games, the Rebels have a formidable schedule, especially their non-district opponents. Three components go into Riverside’s scheduling philosophy, according to Lachney.

“The first thing we consider is how it will prepare our kids mathematically to get a good seed in the playoffs,” Lachney said. “We are trying to go after games that will put our kids in the best position to have a good seed going into the playoffs.

“The second thing we look for is somebody that will challenge us in a way that we believe we will have to be challenged deep in the playoffs. In our playoff bracket maybe there is a physical team that runs misdirection, a Wing-T team or something like that, we will try to find one of those teams to play in our non-district schedule. If we are facing a team in the playoffs that is a spread, throw-it-all-over-the-place offense, then we will go and look for that. If we know the team we will have to beat to win a state championship is an odd-front defense, then we will try to schedule a couple of odd-front defenses.

“The third thing is you have to have a team that will agree to play you. We can pick them all we want, but if they don’t pick us, then we don’t have anything to do.”

Filling the bill for the Rebels are the likes of Southern Lab, Barbe, Rummel and De La Salle.

Southern Lab, a two-time defending Division IV state champion, visits Riverside to open the season.

“They are a very storied program and we are excited about having them on our schedule,” said Lachney.

The Rebels are at home the following week against Barbe.

“We love playing good competition and Barbe is right in line with all those teams we like to play. It ought to be a good, stiff challenge for us,” Lachney said.

Riverside’s first road game of the year will be at Rummel on a Saturday night.

“Rummel is as respected a program as there is in the state. Back when I spent a few years in the Catholic League (as an assistant coach at Brother Martin) they were the class of the district,” Lachney said. “I always enjoyed playing against Rummel and Jay Roth because they are one of the remaining programs that believe that football games are still won by the most physical team. They are a physical opponent. They will hit you in the face and they are really going to challenge you mentally and physically.”

The Raiders, Lachney said, remind him of another team the Rebels know quite well.

“From a scheme standpoint, they are very much like St. Charles. Just from what they do x’s and o’s wise, there is a lot of similarity with St. Charles. The opponent is going to be great. There is going to be some familiarity with our kids,” the Riverside coach said.

Following the likely Week 4 open date, the Rebels return home to take on De La Salle.

“They are one of the great up-and-coming programs in the Metro area. They play tough, physical brand of football we like to play and I think it will be a good matchup,” said Lachney.

Riverside opens district play with a pair of road games at South Plaquemines and Newman.

“One of them is really a long road game. We’ve had a great relationship with Newman for as long as I’ve been here. They will certainly pose some challenges for us. Before that, we are at South Plaquemines. That’s a tough place to play. I don’t care what the situation is or the records are; they are pretty serious about their football over there,” said Lachney.

Riverside will be at home for Weeks 8 and 9 against Fisher and Country Day.

“Fisher is an improving football team. Country Day has been improving every year that Coach (Joe) Chango has been there. They had a really good team last year and we certainly have to be ready to play that one, too,” Lachney said.

George Becnel | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

George Becnel is an award-winning journalist and has been a sports writer and editor for more than 30 years.