For a team that played only seven games, Riverside made the most of its regular-season finale by pounding visiting Country Day 49-18 Friday night in the Rebels’ Homecoming.
Six different players scored for Riverside (3-4 overall, 2-1 in District 8-2A) and the Rebels’ special team produced points on two occasions. Meanwhile, Country Day quarterback Justin Ibieta passed for 241 yards on 25 attempts but earned them the hard way while taking a pounding from a physical Riverside defense.
“I thought our kids accepted the challenge of the week,” Riverside coach Chris Lachney said. “We really challenged our kids to come out and stay dialed in and be physical and be violent. I thought they did a good job of that. It’s been an interesting season for us, to say the least.
“The ups and downs that we’ve been through in terms of things we can’t control and not let it getting to us and coming out and finishing the season on this kind of note with this type of performance against that type of team, I’ll take that. I like where we are right now. We’re in a good spot.”
One of the players who made Ibieta work for every yard was Rebels linebacker Jared Hymel.
“We’ve been lacking on defense with our physical-ness but we really wanted to come out and prove we could play with anybody,” Hymel said.
Hymel factored in one of the special teams scores when he raced 37 yards on a fake field goal in the closing seconds of the first half to give his team a commanding 36-6 halftime lead.
“We’ve been working on that. I told Coach (Lachney), ‘let me have the rock.’ My blockers did an amazing job. I’m just blessed to have people like that in front of me,” Hymel said.
The offensive side also threw Hymel a bone, putting him in the game at running back to score on a 1-yard touchdown to open the second half.
“A lot of times I go in and I block. Coach wanted to reward me a little bit. Once again, my blockers were just doing their thing out there,” said Hymel.
Louis Cheneau, Zack Geiger and Garland Robertson also had touchdown runs while Riverside quarterback Jordan Loving, who passed for 164 yards, tossed and early 19-yard score to Jeremiah Bingham and a 70-yard bomb to Jalen Banks for the Rebels’ final points of the game.
“We were able to establish the run, which gave us some balance. The offensive line played great, the receivers played great. The running backs played great. All across the board, we were pretty sharp,” Loving said.
Special teams produced the first points on a blocked punt by Jared Kenney for a safety. Loving’s touchdown pass to Bingham and a 1-yard run by Cheneau gave Riverside a 15-0 lead after one quarter.
Geiger and Robinson added touchdowns and the Rebels were on top 29-0 with less than five minutes remaining in the first half.
Country Day (5-4 overall, 2-2 in district) finally got on the scoreboard with 2:29 left before halftime on a 20-yard pass from Ibieta to Christian Becnel.
The Rebels set up to punt from the Country Day 37 when Hymel, the upback, took a direct snap and raced in for the touchdown with 22 seconds left in the second quarter for Riverside’s 36-6 halftime lead.
“We obviously preach all three phases of the game, I know everybody does, but we do make a commitment to special teams and we allocate a lot of time to it during the day and in preparation and our kids really do buy into it. We want to make special teams special and make special teams a weapon instead of making special teams to try and avoid a disaster. We try to use it as a weapon,” Lachney said.
Two plays into the second half, Banks returned an interception 64 yards down to the 1-yard line to set up Hymel’s score.
Country Day countered by driving 61 yards for a touchdown, culminating the possession on a 13-yard halfback pass from Buckner Beebe to Price Petagna to make it 43-12.
Jordan’s 70-yard bomb to Banks made it 49-12 with 1:48 remaining in the third quarter.
Ibieta tossed a 27-yard touchdown pass to Petagna on the final play of the game for the 43-18 final.
An open date in Week 10 made the Country Day encounter the final regular-season game for the Rebels, but the team tried to put no more emphasis on it than any other contest, according to Loving.
“We look forward to every game pretty equally. It’s the next challenge in front of us. We knew it was our last regular-season game. It’s just one step to climb over to get to our ultimate goal and a state championship. We are ready to go and we’re well-prepared,” the Riverside quarterback said.