The fashion in which Riverside Academy lost its season-opener 36-13 at Southern Lab last week was a surprise to no one.
“That was our thought going in is that everything is going to be centered around the running game. If we could stop the run, we would have a shot. We didn’t stop the run, so we didn’t have a shot,” Riverside coach Kevin Dizer said.
The Southern Lab running back duo of Charvis Thornton and Tyrion Davis combined for more than 350 yards to hand the Rebels a loss in Dizer’s first game as Riverside’s head coach.
“From our standpoint, from what we did scheme-wise, I thought, was fine, we just didn’t do a good job of executing that scheme and it had everything to do with being outmanned,” Dizer explained. “Our kids have to understand that there are going to be nights where you are going to be outmanned, especially with what we’ve got right now. We will just have to step up and fight for 48 minutes to give yourself a chance. We didn’t do that, and hopefully, we learn from it going forward.”
Riverside (0-1) plays its second game in a row to open the season when the Rebels travel to Lake Charles to take on Barbe. The Buccaneers (1-0) began the year with a 49-27 triumph over Ponchatoula.
A year ago, the Rebels hung tough with the Class 5A Buccaneers before falling 45-28.
“We were right with them, going neck-and-neck going back and forth. We had our shots. It was a very good game and they just wore us out toward the end,” said Dizer, who was a Rebels assistant coach a year ago.
In last year’s game, Riverside running back Jeremy Gibson rushed for 101 yards as the Rebels rushed for 332 yards. The Buccaneers amassed 515 total yards as quarterback Luke Richard passed for 224 yards. Gibson is gone, but Richard returns for Barbe.
“Luke Richard is the guy,” Dizer proclaimed. “He does a really good job of managing that offense. You kind of start to focus on the run game by focusing on the running backs, and there he goes, he’s either throwing one over your head or he’s either hitting a big run. He’s a really dynamic player and does a real good job with his arm and his feet. He has matured a lot since last year in terms of his decision-making. He’s a real good player. That’s one we have to focus on, for sure.”
The Buccaneers have a solid running back in Zane Chretien, according to Dizer.
“He is a really balanced running back. He doesn’t have this superstar-type of talent like we just saw (against Southern Lab), but he’s a really good running back. He’s very patient and has good vision. He finds the holes and he’s very effective running behind a really good offensive line,” the Riverside coach said.
One of Richard’s top targets is versatile Nick Monticello.
“They use him on a lot of speed sweeps and they use him in the intermediate pass game. He’s all over the place in their offense,” Dizer said. “I still don’t think he’s the guy at receiver. He’s like a No. 2 receiver, but you have to keep tabs on him because of how much motioning and stuff they do with him.”
Top receiver honors, Dizer said, goes to Jovious Barry, a 6-foot-2, 185 pounder who also plays cornerback.
The Buccaneers also make use of Aidan Smith, who is a tight end/H-back type.
Barbe features a big offensive line but one that is a bit different in character than the Rebels faced a week ago in Southern Lab, said Dizer.
“They move really well in conjunction with each other. Last week, in terms of just brute strength and power, I don’t know if you will see a better o-line than that. But this week in terms of working together and being big and athletic, Barbe’s got it. They are not as nasty as Southern Lab, but overall, they are probably better than Southern Lab,” Dizer said.
The Buccaneers play a lot of odd looks on defense, according to Dizer.
“I want to say their base is odd-stack but it’s hard to tell,” Dizer said. “Because they are so multiple, they always have three down guys and a two-high safety look.
“They are very disciplined on defense. They don’t necessarily have freaks on their defense, but they are coached extremely well, and they are where they are supposed to be all the time.”
As with last week, the running game figures to be the key to Friday night’s outcome, Dizer said.
“Again, with us, it’s going to be if we can run the football; whether we are going to have a shot to keep the game short and stay in it. If we can’t run the football, it will be a long night. If we can establish the run game, I think we will be OK to stick around.”