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Rebels’ task is to try and contain Ibieta and potent Country Day

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  • George Becnel
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  • October 25, 2018 - 12:17pm

File photosRiverside Academy's task Friday afternoon will be to try and contain prolific quarterback Justin Ibieta of the unbeaten and second-ranked Country Day Cajuns.

The odds may be long, but Riverside Academy could pick up its first significant win of the season with a win over Country Day when the teams meet at 4:30 p.m. Friday in Metairie.

Country Day, ranked No. 2 in Class 2A, goes into the game unbeaten with an 8-0 mark, including 2-0 in District 9-2A.

Riverside, 2-5 overall and 2-1 in district, owns wins over South Plaquemines and Fisher – hardly football powers these days. The Rebels’ losses this season have been the likes of Southern Lab, Barbe, Rummel, De La Salle and Newman.

“This could be our first ‘signature win.’ South Plaquemines is an OK team but they have struggled. Fisher is not a very good team and we have lost to all very good teams, but you’ve got to find a way to get that signature win,” Riverside coach Kevin Dizer said.

Not only would it be a ‘signature win,’ a victory could perhaps allow the Rebels to finish in a three-way tie for first place in the district race, assuming Riverside, Country Day and Newman then all go on to win out to close the season.

“If we win it, I don’t want to celebrate the district championship. If we win the district championship, we will win outright, so I don’t want to celebrate a district championship. But, we will have some satisfaction that no one else has won it either,” Dizer said.

Riverside is coming off a take-care-of-business type 42-13 win over winless Fisher a week ago.

“Friday night was a success, and it has nothing to do with the score. Anytime you go into a game like that, you want to be injury-free and you always have things you want to work on in that football game. We were able to spread it around and we were able to get some young guys in,” said Dizer.

If the Rebels are to get that signature win, they will need to slow down Country Day’s 6-foot-5, 215-pound junior quarterback Justin Ibieta.

“Their offense is all predicated on Justin Ibieta. They are truly balanced but it all comes down to can you stop 13 (Ibieta)? When you think you’ve got him sacked, he will stiff-arm somebody in the pocket and still be able to get the ball off. He extends plays with his feet. He almost looks like a man against boys him running around playing high school football,” Dizer said.

Ibieta likes to throw the ball and he has a number of tall targets.

One of the targets is 6-foot-4 Christian Becnel.

“The jump balls and fancy catches are kind of his thing. You could put together a highlight reel of his spectacular catches he’s made, it would be pretty impressive,” Dizer said of Becnel.

Tyler Williams is a 6-foot-2 receiver.

“They have two big receivers on the outside. Both of those guys go up and get the ball extremely well,” Dizer said.

Many of the Cajuns play on both sides of the ball, so an injury can be a double-whammy Country Day. One such loss includes Ross Talbot, a 6-foot-4 tight end, who also is a top linebacker. Talbot has not played since suffering a leg injury in the Newman game.

Nicky Corchiani, who like Talbot, also plays linebacker, is Country Day’s top runner.

“I don’t think he’s a natural running back but I think he does a good job of filling a void on their team. They don’t have a very explosive run game but they do enough to keep you honest and be balanced on offense,” Dizer said.

The Cajuns, Dizer said, keep things rather simple on the offensive side.

“They will play either an even or odd front and they will play cover-2 out of it. That’s pretty much what they do defensively. There is a lot of merit in that. Yeah, you know what they are going to be doing, but they’ve got a million reps doing that so you know they are going to be good at that,” the Riverside coach said.

Along with the now-injured Talbot and Corchiani, Williams and Becnel play safety on the defensive side of the ball.

“Country Day, the thing about them is, people think we have it bad with people playing both ways, they have seven or eight guys starting both way. They are undefeated and No. 2 in the state, so it can be done,” Dizer said.

A unique aspect of playing at Country Day is the afternoon start time. The Cajuns have maintained that tradition despite unveiling new stadium lights this season.

“I’m excited about it. I know everybody wants to be a 7:00 kickoff, prime-time game and this and that,” Dizer said.

“I kind of feel that Country Day feels it’s an advantage for them,” Dizer continued. “I love that type of stuff. If they do think that’s an advantage for them – give me the short end of the stick – I love that sort of stuff.

“A lot of people hate going to Country Day and people talk about what they do or don’t have. Personally, I love their environment at Country Day. They have a small field. It’s something different.”

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.