By Rory Sharrock
Although he's been on the payroll since the spring term, Friday night officially marked the triumphant return of Nick Davis to the Southern Crescent.
Davis, who previously coached the Raiders in 2004 and 2005, earned his first win since coming back to the neighborhood by leading Riverdale (1-1, 1-0) to a 31-10 rout over region foe Lovejoy (0-2, 0-1) at Twelve Oaks Stadium.
"We're real excited. Our kids came out here and we rebounded from last week. We played with more excitement and anytime you can win your first region game, that's big for us. We're 1-0 in the region and that's what's important," Davis said. "Even though I was out of the county for two years, Riverdale is my heart. That's why I'm back. I love everything about it and I love these kids."
Riverdale sprinted out to a huge early lead and never looked back courtesy of wing back Deaunte Trigger. The senior speedster accounted for three first-quarter touchdowns, two rushing and one receiving, to put the Raiders up 21-3.
Trigger had touchdown runs of 24 and nine yards, however, his 72-yard scoring reception was an electrifying play that brought the Riverdale fans to their feet.
On the play, Lovejoy was caught in the wrong alignment as defensive coordinator David Hughes called for a safety blitz, leaving Trigger all alone in the slot to race to the end zone untouched.
"We went out there executed and did our thing. This is very important and puts us one step closer to the playoffs. We want to win state this year," said Trigger.
After trailing 24-3 at the break, Lovejoy came out strong with an aggressive rushing attack to start the third quarter.
But a combination of costly penalties and an ankle injury to star left tackle Andre Harris stuffed the drive, forcing Lovejoy to punt from the Riverdale 39-yard line, thus ending a 7:44 drive for the Wildcats.
On Riverdale's ensuing possession, running back Daryl Smith took an inside handoff on a counter play and blew past the defense as well as his own blockers for a 71-yard score, putting to bed any hopes for a Lovejoy rally.
Riverdale will celebrate its rout, but will immediately go back to the drawing board in preparation for its game versus Westlake next Saturday at Twelve Oaks Stadium.
Lovejoy hopes to rebound and post its first win when it travels to Newnan next Friday.
Harris sat out the entire second half with a lame ankle, but should be ready for action versus the Cougars.
With this win Friday night, the Raiders improved to 7-6 all-time against the Wildcats dating back to their inaugural meeting in 1990.