New Riverdale coach Terry Herrod still making the adjustment to his new position. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)
RIVERDALE — There were already a lot of people looking forward to the September 20 matchup between Dutchtown and Riverdale — especially on the Riverdale side.
Perhaps, what happened last year when the two teams met has a little something to do with that.
Riverdale, then coached by Olten Downs who has since moved on to Creekside, came to Dutchtown with a surprising 3-0 record, and its first top 10 ranking in years.
The Bulldogs then promptly handed the Raiders its first loss of the season to the tune of 39-0.
For that reason, Riverdale had already, no doubt, circled the date of the rematch on its calendar. But then the coaching carousel began to spin. Downs left for the Seminoles, Jason Galt moved on to North Fayette and former Lovejoy defensive coordinator Kevin Jones was tapped as the replacement.
That eventually led to former Dutchtown defensive coordinator Terry Herrod landing the head job at Riverdale.
Thus, the stage is set. Former Bulldog coach leads new team against old team. Let the potential story lines run wild.
Except Herrod said he isn’t particularly looking forward to the matchup.
“The more we get closer to September 20, the more I’ll just be glad when we get there and get past it,” Herrod said recently during Clayton County football media day. “It’s just not one of those games that I am really going to enjoy. I mean we’ll enjoy it to the point that it’s another chance to play football, and it’s a game we’re going to go out and win, but besides that, I’m really having a hard time with this one.”
And it’s not for any controversial reasons either, Herrod said. He still loves the kids he left. And, according to Herrod, the feelings are mutual.
“Our teams met up during the 7-on-7s at Lovejoy this summer, and even that was hard,” Herrod said. “I mean you have these kids that you’ve been with and coaching since they were in the seventh grade, and all of a sudden you’re not with them anymore.
“But they showed me that things we’re okay. They kept coming up to me and bumping me and dapping me up and pretty much saying, ‘It’s cool, Coach.’”
That’s the reassuring part for Herrod. He said he doesn’t see this game as a budding rivalry. He doesn’t see this in the context of new coach vs. old team. He just simply wants it to be another step in Riverdale’s quest for a state championship run.
“We have high expectations at Riverdale this year,” said Herrod who inherits a 7-4 team from 2012 that is loaded with returning talent. “We just want to get to that game, get past it and keep moving to the goals we’ve set for this team. I love Dutchtown and always will. So there definitely won’t be any hard feelings in it from my point of view.”