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Riverdale, Griffin battle for top spot

Photo by Derrick Mahone
Riverdale coach Olten Downs is hoping his team can “Finish The Drill” in tonight’s game against No. 10 Griffin when the teams meet in a key Region 4-AAAA, Div. B game at Tara Stadium.

Photo by Derrick Mahone Riverdale coach Olten Downs is hoping his team can “Finish The Drill” in tonight’s game against No. 10 Griffin when the teams meet in a key Region 4-AAAA, Div. B game at Tara Stadium.

‘RIVERDALE — Riverdale and Griffin will find out how much they’ve learned about themselves from tough losses.

The last time Riverdale played a highly anticipated game, the Raiders were shelled 38-0 at Dutchtown. Riverdale entered that game on Sept. 21 ranked for the first time since 2005 and looking at the opportunity of forging itself a playoff contender.

Then reality hit in a big way.

“We lost our focus going into that game,” Riverdale running back Kamhad Magwood said. “We sort of got the big head because of the rankings. We learned our lesson. I’m glad that happened earlier in the season than later.”

The Bears enter the 7:30 p.m. game at Tara Stadium coming off a 17-14 loss Stockbridge at Memorial Stadium. It was the first time that Griffin had ever lost to a Henry County school in 28 matchups.

Griffin dropped from No. 2 to 10th in this week’s Associated Press rankings.

“Losing is never a good thing, but you hope if you do lose something good can come out of it,” Griffin coach Steve DeVoursney told the Griffin Daily News this week. “We had a lot of kids who had something to say after the game and challenged some of their teammates.”

This is a high stakes game with first place in the Region 4-AAAA, Div. B standings on the line. Since both teams have already lost a crossover game against a Div. A team, today’s showdown is needed for the fight for the top spot in next month’s region play-in game.

Next month’s play-in games will pit each subregion’s No. 1 seed against the No. 4 seed from the other subregion. The No. 2 seeds take on the No. 3 seeds with the winners advancing to the state playoffs.

“The Dutchtown game was for preparation for this moment,” Riverdale coach Olten Downs said. “Riverdale had not been in that position of fighting for something in a long time. There is a lot at stake with this game.”

Downs said his team is better prepared to handle the hype surrounding today’s game.

“We know the significance of region play,” Downs said. “These next four weeks are very important for the season. We know the mystic of the Griffin program. They have some big-time talent, and it will be a challenge for us.”