There are no guarantees left this football season.
Riverside coach Bill Stubbs and Northlake Christian coach Tony Agresta are well aware of that, too.
Top-seeded Riverside (8-1) hosts No. 16 Northlake Christian (7-3) in the first round of the Division III playoffs in a clash that features the first and seventh-ranked teams in The New Orleans Advocate Super 10 in Reserve on Friday night.
Seeding and records aside, both are relying on their season-long experiences as they aim to survive and advance to another Friday night.
“We don’t worry about seeding, home-field advantage. We’re concerned with lining up and playing wherever and doing the best job we can,” Stubbs said. “There’s a finality to it if you don’t. Everything is even in the playoffs. Forget the schedule, scores. We just need to concern ourselves with our identity.”
“Our kids are used to being in the playoffs, and they have a desire to advance,” Agresta said. “We understand if we don’t win, our season is over. We understand we need to deal with the task at hand. We know who the opponent is, but football is about blocking and tackling, execution and discipline.”
The Rebels were Division III semifinalists a year ago and enter the postseason as a favorite in the bracket. That’s due in part to the team boasting a wealth of veteran talent and getting healthy as the season progressed.
Riverside has won eight consecutive games since its Week 1 loss to Ehret, which was decided by one point. Since then, the team has defeated the likes of Parkview Baptist, Hahnville and Plaquemine in its non-district schedule and finished 5-0 against its 9-2A opponents to capture a third straight district title.
Having had success against a range of opponents that utilize different styles, the Rebels seems poised to take on whatever challenges lie ahead.
“We had a tough schedule, but it gave us these opportunities,” Stubbs said. “Everybody is different and brings a different personality. There’s not much we haven’t seen, from the triple-option, the spread to smash mouth. That’s given us a good foundation throughout the course of the season. Hopefully, we can capitalize on it here and throughout the postseason.”
The Wolverines have advanced to the second round of the playoffs the past three years. As they attempt to extend that streak to four, the team is fully aware of the stumbling block that stands in its way.
Like Riverside, Northlake Christian believes its schedule has prepared the team for the playoffs. Though Agresta admits this Riverside team poses challenges unlike any other he’s seen this season.
“Frankly, they’re the best team we’ve seen,” he said. “This team has a unique character, but hopefully with the diversity on our schedule, we’ve seen a little bit of everything to help us prepare.”