Neither Newman nor Riverside are romanticizing about their upcoming meeting. Then again, neither have to.
The past two years, the Newman-Riverside game has decided the District 9-2A championship. The past two years, it’s been the Rebels winning.
In fact, Riverside has won its past three games against the Greenies and four of the past five.
This year’s game at 7 p.m. Friday at Mickey Roussel Field in Reserve, is the district opener for both. Both teams are aware of Riverside’s recent success in the series, though both are acting as if the slate has been wiped clean as they prepare for a game that clearly holds major district ramifications.
“It’s just another game on our schedule,” Riverside senior quarterback Herb McGee said. “Yes, it’s a big game, but it’s no bigger then the last four. We’re approaching it as getting one step closer to our ultimate goal — winning a state championship. So with that said, we’re looking forward to get better Friday than we were the last time out.”
“I expect to see the most physical and talented team we’ve seen this season,” Newman junior quarterback Miles Lapeyre said.
“Last year, I let it become a mental game. There was a lot of hype, and I let it get the best of me. This year, we’re going in focused and ready for the challenge in front of us.”
Last year’s meeting marked the fifth career start for Lapeyre at quarterback in place of an injured Jay Tyler. Lapeyre, then a sophomore, was 4-0 as the starting quarterback entering the Riverside game.
Newman was 6-0 before it ran into a buzz saw in Riverside last year and lost its only regular-season game 55-14.
Newman is 4-0 already this season, the third consecutive season in which the Greenies have opened the season with four consecutive victories under coach Nelson Stewart.
However, early season success isn’t getting to the Greenies’ heads this time.
“Last year, with our personnel in Kendall (Bussey) and Jay and Drew (Drouilhet) and those guys, we thought it was going to be easier,” said Lapeyre, who threw a touchdown and four interceptions against Riverside last year.
“This year, we’re going in with the mindset that we’ve got to come harder and play better, and that’s how you have to drown out the hype.”
McGee celebrated his 17th birthday in the Riverside-Newman game last season. The senior played wide receiver that day, but threw a touchdown to former teammate Von Julien in the win.
McGee will return under center and make his fifth consecutive start in place of the injured Jordan Loving this Friday night.
Riverside averaged 48.3 points per game last season with Loving. Through five games with McGee at quarterback, the Rebels offense is averaging 24.0 points per game.
The offense isn’t as flashy, McGee said, but the team is learning to win games in other ways.
“We’re not as high-powered as we’ve been the past few years, but we’re finding ways to win, and that shows you how great of a team we can be,” said McGee. “It’s been a joy to be back there (at quarterback). I get to experience a different aspect of the game.
“Going into Newman is like any other game. I have to take what they give me and not try to do too much. I know our line will do what they’ve done the past few games, and I’ll have time to operate back there.”