Next part of gauntlet for Country Day is game at Riverside _lowres

Advocate staff photo by RUSTY COSTANZA -- Country Day's Trey Harrell catches a pass on his knees as Episcopal's Samuel Rotenberg watches in a September game.

The first leg of Country Day’s rugged three-game stretch didn’t go quite the way the Cajuns had hoped last Friday night.

Country Day fell to Newman, knocking the Cajuns from their unbeaten perch.

But that blemish on their record hasn’t discouraged Country Day as it faces the second part of the brutal gauntlet Friday.

That’s when Country Day (7-1, 2-1 in 9-2A), ranked No. 6 in The New Orleans Advocate Super 10, travels to play top-ranked Riverside (6-1, 3-0).

“We made it clear to our guys at the beginning of the season that our goals were to make a run in the district, get to the playoffs and make a run to the Dome,” first-year Country Day coach Joe Chango said. “It was never about winning or losing against any particular teams. So the goals we laid out are still in front of us, so we still have to chase them just as hard. What happened last week is behind us. Now, we have to go to Reserve and be focused on this one.”

A Country Day win, coupled with another next week against No. 3 St. Charles, would give Country Day a share of the district title.

But it will be a tall order against the Rebels, who have won six straight games. Riverside’s lone loss was a 29-28 setback to Class 5A John Ehret in the season opener. Since that defeat, the Rebels have posted wins against Class 5A Hahnville and perhaps an even more impressive win last week when they easily beat St. Charles 35-3.

“I thought it was one of our most complete, balanced games against a really good St. Charles team,” said Riverside coach Bill Stubbs, in his fourth season.

Riverside, ranked No. 3 in the LSWA’s Class 2A poll, is eyeing its third consecutive district title. They’ve won 11 consecutive district games dating to the 2013 season.

The three district wins this season (over Newman, West St. John and St. Charles) have come by a combined score of 120-23.

“They are just so good in so many places,” Chango said. “When you break down the film and look for a weakness, you can’t find one. They are just really solid at every position.

“You have to go in and try to play mistake free football and hope you get a couple things go your way.”

That wasn’t the case last week for Chango’s team when it made the trip from Metairie to Uptown.

“We came out of the gate with some critical mistakes in some key situations,” Chango said. “(Newman) is a good football and very well coached and they are going to make you pay for mistakes. They played hard. It’s something we learned from. You hate to say a loss is good for you, but in the long run, it might have been good for us.”

Country Day is led by running back Jase Griffin, quarterback Christian Kerut and receiver Trey Harrell.

Griffin has rushed for 1,181 yards and scored 27 touchdowns.

Despite last week’s 14-point outing against Newman, the Cajuns are still averaging an area-best 50.6 points per game. They are allowing 12.5 points per game.

“They are playing at a high level and scoring a lot of points,” Stubbs said. “It’s hard to score 50 points against air. So you have to really take them serious. We have to continue doing what we are doing.”

The Rebels counter with an offense led by quarterback Jared Butler and receivers Herb McGee and Tyler Gauthier. Butler, a sophomore, passed for 187 yards and a touchdown and rushed for three touchdowns in that win.

He looks to keep Riverside rolling, while the Cajuns look to slow him down and get back on the winning track after tasting defeat for the first time this season.

“The kids are always more resilient after a loss than the adults are,” Chango said. “Our kids came Monday ready to go to work and knowing the challenge in front of us.”