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Top-ranked Rebels can feel right at ‘home’ when hosting Buccaneers

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  • George Becnel
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  • September 06, 2017 - 12:16pm

File photosQuarterback Jordan Loving and a high-powered Riverside Academy offense take on the Barbe Buccaneers in a Friday night home game for the top-ranked Rebels.


Maybe it’s a good thing that Chris Lachney decided to go into coaching instead of meteorology.

“It’s one of those things where sometimes you think God is just playing with you. You work so hard to protect your field and you make some arrangements to find a place to play and you end up going and you end up having a lightning delay and the weather here is beautiful and sun-shiny. If it’s not interesting, it would be boring,” the first-year Riverside Academy coach said.

Because of torrential rain associated with the remnants of Hurricane Harvey, Lachney did not want to tear up his grass football field for the season so the Rebels’ season opener against Southern Lab was moved to Sulphur.

“Looking back on the situation, I would have done it the same exact way again,” Lachney said. “There was no way to know when we made the decision on Wednesday that would have taken place. We did a good job of making plans but also I was totally impressed with our support system and our community that was able to pull off such an event in such a short amount of time. I think Riverside Academy was on great display that night.”

Barbe, Riverside’s Week 2 opponent, found itself in a similar situation as Riverside. The Buccaneers moved their home game with Ponchatoula last Friday to Sulphur.

The change of venue hardly bothered either team. Riverside dominated Southern Lab 54-0 while Barbe beat Ponchatoula 56-13.

Riverside, the top-ranked team in Class 2A, took control of its game early against Southern Lab, scoring three quick touchdowns.

“Our offense is a pretty explosive one,” Lachney said. “We have some pretty good options to distribute the ball to. We pose a lot of conflicts for defenses that try to defend us. As long as we can continue to play at a high level and practice hard and pay attention to details, I think we have the chance to do that to a lot of people.

“What that does is take some of the pressure off a defense that is kind of finding its way right now. I know with a shutout in back-to-back weeks, it looks like here’s typical Riverside defense as usual, but we’re not that, yet. I’m not saying we’re struggling but we’re really trying to find the right makeup to make us a championship-level defense.”

Meanwhile, Barbe score on six consecutive possessions in its win over Ponchatoula.

Riverside and Barbe, Lachney said, have more in common than just big opening-game triumphs.

“Their team is eerily similar to ours if you look at the x’s and o’s and the schemes that they run,” the Riverside coach said.  If you watch their film besides just knowing who our kids are and knowing who their kids are, you wouldn’t notice the difference.

“Defensively, they are 3-4 based like we are but they are a little more traditional or a little more plain Jane with theirs than we are. We kind of morph ours into different looks as the game goes along.”

Barbe’s big-play threat on offense is receiver Jaylon Smith.

“Their offense is a very good one and they’ve got a couple of guys who can really go and can pose a problem for us, the least of which is Jaylon Smith. He is their home-run hitter. He’s the guy that can take it the distance from anywhere at any time. He’s the guy they try to get to in space. He’s not a very, very big kid. He’s a receiver but they hand it to him on the jet sweep just as much as they throw it to him down the field,” Lachney said of Smith.

The Buccaneers rotate Dana Fontenot and Jaivan Samuel at running back.

“Both of those guys are capable kids. They are more between-the-tackles, pounding type runners while Smith is more on the edges,” said Lachney.

Another quality target is receiver is Devon Pauley.

“He’s got speed. He’s not a very big kid but he certainly poses some conflicts for you in the way he is able to split the seams in zone coverages and it kind of seems like he’s always open, not matter what,” Lachney said.

Distributing the ball is quarterback Luke Richard.

“The quarterback does a good job of making decisions and extending plays with his feet and distributing the ball to some pretty good players,” Lachney said.

The leader for the Barbe defense is lineman C.J. Semien.

“He’s the motor. He’s the guy who makes it go. He’s the thermometer on that team. He sets the temperature. When he’s hot, they’re hot. He plays real physical and makes it difficult on offensive linemen trying to block him,” Lachney said of Semien.

Others up front include Lamarcus Benton and Chandler Crawford.

“I was impressed with their whole defensive front. They are all high-motor kids and play with a lot of leverage. They are not extremely tall but they are compact. They are strong, explosive kids,” Lachney said.

The Buccaneer linebacker corps, Lachney said, features no stars but are sound football players.

“I thought all four of their linebackers were more than capable of playing that position for them. There are not a whole lot of superstars at linebacker or the secondary but they are just good high school football players,” said Lachney.

While Riverside and Barbe are coming off big road wins in “home” games last week, it is the Rebels who truly get to play at home in Week 2.

“We love playing here,” Lachney said. “It’s what we are most used to. It’s most like a routine to us but I’ve always believed that the period of time between 3:00 and 7:00 is where the advantage is for a home game or disadvantage for an away game. Once you kick the ball off, I don’t know what the difference is. It doesn’t matter where you are playing. It’s the idea that the school bell rings and you are staying at home and you are dressing in your locker room and you are getting taped in your training room and you know where you have to go for meetings beforehand and what you are doing at halftime. It’s just a routine.

“Once kickoff starts, there is no difference between a home and road game. In terms of the crowd and all that, if we were playing in the Superdome and there were 75,000 at home, it would be different. Our fans – the same ones that are at the home games are at the road games – so we feel like we are at home no matter where we play.”

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.