Riverdale coach Terry Herrod still remains optimistic about his team’s playoff chances despite the Raiders 1-3 start heading into Saturday’s game against Griffin. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)
RIVERDALE — When Griffin and Riverdale meet on Saturday in a key Region 4-AAAA, Division B game at Memorial Stadium, both teams will be missing key personnel.
Griffin will be without head coach Steve DeVoursney, who has to sit out this game after being ejected in the first half of the third-ranked Bears win at Stockbridge last week.
Riverdale’s loss might be more devastating since quarterback Greg Taylor is lost for the season after sustaining a torn ACL injury.
By all indications, this game could decide the subregion championship. Both teams enter the game with a 1-0 record in the subregion. Last week’s win over Stockbridge places the Bears in a good position to win the region championship and gain the top seed in next month’s state playoffs.
While the Raiders have reason to be down after injuries have contributed to a 2-3 start, including three straight losses, coach Terry Herrod said his team’s confidence remains high.
“The kids are still working hard,” Herrod said. “They believe in what we are doing.”
Chances are Griffin, which is 5-0 overall with all blowout wins, will enter the game sky-high because of homecoming festivities. The school is promoting a blackout for the game.
DeVoursney said that he has cautioned his team against a letdown.
“This is the first time this group of kids has ever played a Saturday game, it’s homecoming, it’s fair week, their head coach is not going to be there. and they’re having a blackout — all our fans wearing black — so there are a lot of distractions going on,” DeVoursney told the Griffin Daily News this week. “It’s prime time for a letdown, especially coming off the game we just had.”
As Riverdale tries to live-up to preseason expectations of earning a second straight playoff berth, the Raiders will have to do so with Taylor. Now, the Raiders have put their trust in sophomore Nate Williams, who has played in three games. He has completed 5 of 13 passes for 31 yards.
In comparison, Taylor was having a solid season with 897 passing yards with a 51 completion rate. He has three for eight touchdowns with only one interception before the injury.
Williams is more of a runner than Taylor. In the Raiders’ loss to Dutchtown, he had two touchdown runs.
“We have a lot of confidence in Nate,” Herrod said. “We don’t need for him to be Greg, we need him to be Nate. I feel like he can get it done. Our kids are fighting through all the adversity. The results over the last three weeks are not what we wanted, but I still like our team’s chances.”
The players agreed.
“We are not looking past anything,” Riverdale noseguard Isaiah Gilliard said. “We are just looking at one game at a time. We have to leave everything on the field. We’re still confident in our ability. We won’t look at ourselves as a losing team. We still have to play hard and strong.”
Riverdale’s defense will be tested against one of the top offenses in Class AAAA.
The Bears are led by quarterback Jaquez Parks, who is having a solid senior season. In last week’s win against Stockbridge, he accounted for five touchdowns — three passing and two rushing. He also threw for 201 yards.
Despite Riverdale’s missing personnel, DeVoursney still considers them a dangerous group.
“They have a very good football team, a lot of good players,” DeVoursney said. “We just have to make sure our kids are ready to go.”