Riverside, Loving eat way to comeback win over Dunham

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At some point in our lives, we all experience the day from hell. Sometimes, it is the month, the season or even the year that leaves us in a difficult state.

2016 was Heaven sent for Riverside Academy.

The Rebels are always strong in basketball and made a run to the state semifinals. In baseball, they won the state championship.

Then, there is football.

The Rebels captured the Division III state championship in a memorable season one year ago.

Then came 2017.

First, there was a contract to play an opponent that was voided by the opponent, who scheduled two games on the same night. Then, there was the fact that no one wanted to play the Rebels, resulting in them scheduling higher classification powers in Barbe, Rummel and De La Salle.

Next, Riverside had to weather changing the date and location of its season opening game with Southern Lab due to a storm.

Then came an unfortunate circumstance as South Plaquemines canceled its game with Riverside due to the threat of Hurricane Nate.

Considering Riverside only had nine games scheduled initially, losing the game due to the contract fiasco and the South Plaquemines game, which could have been played a night early or even moved to Reserve and you understand just how difficult the year has been.

Add to that the fact that elite athlete Jared Butler opted not to play football to concentrate on basketball, a coaching change and key injuries and you understand the plight of the Rebels.

Needless to say, they lost to Barbe, Rummel and Riverside and lost a 31-30 overtime contest at unbeaten Newman. It has been a trying season, to say the least for Riverside.

That is why no one should be surprised about what happened Friday night.

The fifth-seeded Rebels traveled to fourth-seed Dunham. As they were getting set to play, one problem prevented the game from starting as the lights would not come on after a transformer blew and could not get back up to speed.

As a result, the two teams agreed to relocate the game to Parkview Baptist.

Riverside struggled early, falling behind 21-10 to the Tigers and they trailed 21-16 at halftime.

That is when Chris Lachney decided to feed his team.

Suffice it to say that the Rebels feasted on burgers and then went out and feasted on Dunham. Riverside outscored the Tigers 52-21 in the second half to claim a 62-42 victory in the Division III quarterfinals.

“We had a plan, a very specific plan,” Lachney said. “We stuck to it and executed it. Everything from going to buy 100 Snickers bars and 100 McDonald’s hamburgers on the way to the stadium so we could feed our kids because we knew it was going to be a long night. We had a rough start to the game. We fed the kids at halftime. We had eaten our pre-game meal at 3 p.m. It was well after 10 p.m. We scored three touchdowns in the first four minutes of the second half. Their appetites were quenched!”

With content stomachs, the Rebels left the Tigers feeling queasy, scoring on six of seven second half possessions.

“We’re used to getting thrown curve balls,” Lachney said. “We never questioned God in all of this. We were laughing when this happened. It was an unbelievable deal. I thought before the game that we were flat, lethargic and did not have a whole lot of energy about us. When the power outage happened, it kind of woke us up. We’re used to this. Okay, curve ball, we can hit these. It was really good. Everybody handled it really well.”

It was the Jordan Loving show on full display.

The senior, who has started since his freshman season, was brilliant.

Loving completed 25-of-31 passes for 358 yards and six touchdowns and just one interception in a fabulous performance. Despite being big, more mobile and with a outstanding arm, Loving is attracting little attention in recruiting.

“I’m just as confused as everybody else is,” Lachney said. “I can’t speculate on why he is not being recruited more. The kid’s a winner, a great football player. He could make any football team in the country better. I believe that from the bottom of my heart. He embodies everything we try to teach in our program. He is Riverside football personified. He’s a helluva football player. I think everybody is missing out on a really good one.”

Kash Foley had 12 catches for 142 yards and two touchdowns while Jalen Banks, Jaelyn Watkins and Jeremiah Bigham added a touchdown reception.

Filling in for the injured Jeremy Gibson, junior Louis Cheneau rushed 13 times for 106 yards and three touchdowns and caught a touchdown pass for a fourth score. Garland Robertson returned a kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown and had a key interception. Shelby White and Trevontay Brooks each added an interception for the Rebels while Jared Hymel was in on 13 tackles.

Colton Wilson added a 34-yard field goal. Mike Williams did pass for 233 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 113 yards but he suffered the three interceptions. Blue-chip junior prospect Derek Stingley had 105 yards rushing and a touchdown, along with an interception for Dunham. The Tigers finished with 498 yards to 453 for the Rebels.

The victory moves Riverside into a semifinal showdown at top-seeded and unbeaten Notre Dame at Gardiner Memorial Stadium Friday night. The Pios (10-0) shutout eighth-seed Episcopal 45-0 Friday night to advance. The brilliant Notre Dame defense has allowed seven points or less in nine of its 10 games.

Two years ago, Notre Dame downed Riverside 13-3 in the state championship game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Lachney was on the staff and several of his players were part of the loss.

“We’ve got a ton of respect for Notre Dame and Coach Lewis Cook,” Lachney said. “Our seniors were sophomores when we lost to them in the state championship game in the Superdome two years ago. Certainly, there were different circumstances surrounding that game. We are both different teams. We can’t think that game will have any influence on this year’s outcome. We just have to get our kids and coaches ready to play our best game of the year to beat a really good team.”

Considering what Riverside has been through, playing a terrific team, coach and program on the road in the state semifinals is just a small obstacle, a blip on the radar screen.

“In all my years of coaching, this is the most adversity any team I have been involved with has deal with,” Lachney said. “Every team deals with adversity. What’s made this season memorable is the unconventional way things have happened. It certainly hasn’t been typical or normal. It has been unique. It’s been a rough road but if you walk into our lockerroom right now, our kids are as positive and resilient and battled tested as any team in the state with what they have overcome.”

Despite going into next Friday night as an underdog, Lachney is smiling today.

“I like where our football team is right now,” Lachney said. “Perhaps we’ll look for a McDonald’s on the way to Crowley.”

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Ken Trahan


Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…

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