Following a brutal schedule against the likes of Southern Lab, Barbe, Rummel and De La Salle, that saw Riverside Academy open the 2018 season 0-4, the Rebels finally picked up their first win of the season last Friday with a 47-14 victory over South Plaquemines in the District 9-2A opener.
“After going through the first four weeks of the season and you challenge those kids to beat those type of teams and you don’t, you have to continue to build them up and they have to continue to keep their morale high. To finally get a win, I’m sure, was a relief for them, but it doesn’t get any easier going into this week,” Riverside coach Kevin Dizer said.
The Newman Greenies aren’t likely to be in a good mood when they travel to Reserve to take on the Rebels at 7 p.m. Friday night.
Newman is coming off a 35-31 loss to Country Day in what was a battle of unbeatens. The Greenies squandered a 31-14 lead heading into the fourth quarter before the Cajuns made a remarkable rally.
“Newman is a really good team,” Dizer said. “Common sense told me that Newman would beat Country Day pretty good but I know that game is always crazy and I know Coach (Joe) Chango always gets his guys ready to go. It didn’t surprise me that Country Day came back and beat them. That game always to have some weird quirks in there.”
Newman goes into Friday night’s game 5-1 overall and tied for sixth in Class 2A. The Greenies have the No. 4 power ranking among Division III teams.
“This is one of the deepest Newman teams I’ve seen. They have always been coached very well but they just haven’t had great athletes at some spots, but this year, they have dudes everywhere, and they still are coached very well,” Dizer said.
Martin Butcher, coming off a 300-yard, four-touchdown performance against Country Day, is another in a long line of top quarterbacks at Newman.
“I remember they had Myles Lapeyre and he was a really good player. Butcher came in last year. I didn’t think he was nearly as good as Lapeyre but he has continued to develop. He has full range, full control of that offense. He’s certainly one you have to deal with. There are not a lot of teams in Louisiana, period, that have really good passing games that are coached really well in the passing game, but Newman is one of them. They have a very smart guy at quarterback,” said Dizer.
Butcher has several options to go to in the passing game.
“Their receivers are really good. To go along with the quarterback, those guys are very smart. Those guys understand all the reads. They know where to be. Their timing is really good. The thing that scares you the most about them is Murray Calhoun and Jamone Sutherland. They are primarily outside receivers. They will blow the top off a defense on any given play,” Dizer said.
When Butcher hands the ball off, it’s generally to running back T.J. Bush.
“He’s and undersized kid, but he’s got some wheels. He’s pretty fast. He hadn’t been a home-run hitter for them this year, but he’s certainly capable of moving the chains,” Dizer said of Bush.
The Greenies operate out of a four-man front on defense.
“They do a lot of different movements. They do a lot blitzes; a lot of different stunts. You have to keep them honest. You have to have a balance of run and pass. If they know you are just going to pass it, they will pin their ears back and come after you,” Dizer said.
The Greenies boast a number of returning starters on defense, especially along a front seven consisting of linemen Brandon Williams, Preston Schnell, Andrew Godsegan and James Downing, along with linebackers Bobby Moore and Liam Rowan. Rounding out the front seven is junior linebacker Wade Politz.
“The thing about this team across the board is they always are well-coached and when you have veteran players that have been in your system for multiple years, that always helps,” Dizer said.
Williams, a big-time recruit, could be out of action for the Riverside game.
“I believe Brandon Williams is out. I’m not 100 percent sure. I believe he’s injured. He’s scary coming off the edge,” Dizer said.
Despite the 0-4 start, a win over Newman would make the Rebels 2-0 in league play and a factor in the district race.
“That would be huge,” Dizer said. “That would set us up to do what we want to do. In the back of our minds, as coaches, once we got through those four, that should have us prepared to go through the district. If we are able to get this one, it’s going to set us up. It’s looking right now that the district championship is going to go through Metairie (Country Day). I’m sure Newman is looking to not go 0-2 in district and I’m sure Newman is going to do whatever to tie this thing and try to find a way to finish at the top if we can find a way to beat Country Day or something like that.
“Obviously, I would like to go 2-0 and set up a district championship, so to speak, with Country Day. That’s the plan.”