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Riverside Academy plays on ‘big stage’ against Rummel Raiders

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  • George Becnel
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  • September 13, 2017 - 11:23am

File photosJay Roth and the fourth-ranked Rummel Raiders of the Catholic League play host to Riverside Academy, ranked No. 3 in Class 2A,on Saturday night at Joe Yenni Stadium.

Sometimes, you can get a lot out of a football game – even in a loss.

“I was very, very proud of the way our kids fought and scratched and clawed to give themselves a chance to win a game against a very good opponent late in the game,” said Riverside Academy coach Chris Lachney reflected up his team’s 45-28 loss last week to Barbe. “Unfortunately, we didn’t do some of the things down the stretch that go into winning games and you pay the price for it.

“We will be in a situation where we will be better off for it down the road because of what happened on Friday.”

The Rebels face another one of those “get better regardless of the outcome” games when they take on Rummel at 7 p.m. Saturday at Joe Yenni Stadium.

“They (the Raiders) are very, very talented but I think we’ve got some good players, too. I want to see our kids compete on that big stage against definitely one of the most talented teams in the state of Louisiana. Our kids enjoy being in those situations. We’ve always taken an anyone, any place, any time approach to scheduling. This is certainly indicative of it and our kids are excited about the chance to compete against these guys,” Lachney said.

Rummel, ranked No. 4 in the Class 5A poll is 1-0 on the season and is coming off a bye week.

The Raiders have become an explosive offensive football team led by star receiver JaMarr Chase.

“Somebody that fast doesn’t have any business being that big,” Lachney said of Chase. “To have the type of speed and athleticism that he has, if you look at them in their scrimmage, jamboree and Week 1 game against Gulfport, I’ve never seen a receiver score as many touchdowns in those three contests. If it’s a running back who will touch the ball 30 times a game, I’ve seen guys score that much. But as a wide-out, I don’t care if you are Randy Moss, you just don’t score that many touchdowns at the position.”

The Rummel receiver corps is more than just Chase, according to Lachney.

“We will tell our kids, don’t be distracted by him because there are three other ones that are just as good at some things. They have three other ones that are capable of beating you if you let them,” the Riverside coach said.

The Raiders boast a receiver corps that also includes seniors Evan Francioni, Cole Young and Jermie Walker, along with sophomore Koy Moore.

“Koy Moore has an offer from LSU and doesn’t start for them. There is a kid who LSU offered a scholarship to that can’t break the starting lineup over there. That’s pretty impressive,” said Lachney.

The presence of Chase and his fellow receivers had led to a change in philosophy by Rummel coach Jay Roth.

“In Coach Roth’s career, he’s been known as a handing the ball off to the same running back 40 times a game and beat you down physically,” Lachney said. “That’s been the brand of play he has been comfortable with and he has been ultra successful with that model to the point where he’s even taken heat for not being creative enough in the offense.

“The mark of a good leader and the mark of a good coach is to do what you know gives your kids and your team the best chance to win regardless of the popular opinion. It would have been real easy for him to continue to play the same style of offense because that’s the horse that he road there. He was able as a good coach to look at his roster and say what is best for this team. They are throwing it all over the place with four and five wide receiver sets.”

Even Keirell Jackson and Dwan Trufant represent a different style of runners for the Raiders.

“If you go back throughout the years, they’ve typically had the Adrian Peterson mold running back that was able to sustain 35 carries a game and all that stuff, but he looked at his roster and saw what he had and made some adaptations with his running backs,” Lachney observed.

Rummel’s quarterback is Chandler Fields, a transfer from Holy Cross.

The Rummel defense is a bit different as well.

“I would say they are much more of an odd front this year than they have been in the past,” Lachney said. “Typically, a Rummel defense is going to be a four-man front and then on passing situations, they will get themselves into a three-man front. Now, it looks like their three-man package is more of their base and they kind of build it from there. In that package they are able to be a lot more multiple and creative.”

The leader on defense is highly-touted Aaron Brule’.

“He’s one of the most involved (defensive players). What I say, ‘involved,’ what I mean by that is he’s kind of like Seal Team Six. Whatever the job is to do, he’s the one to go do it. He’ll play safety; he’ll play linebacker; he’ll play nickel and shot. He is very, very versatile,” said Lachney.

Riverside, which dropped from No. 1 to being tied for third in the Class 2A poll after the loss to Barbe, faces an open date following the Rummel game but that fact shouldn’t have any impact on the team this week, according to Lachney.

“I think we take one thing at a time. Certainly, the fact that there isn’t a game next week doesn’t affect our mindset going into this one, but we know our opportunities are limited. But everyone’s are. If you think of the amount or work it takes to put into a football season and a regular season is 10 games. You work 365 days a year to play 10 of them.”

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.