Before this season, it had been five years since Riverside and St. Charles squared off.
The two River Parish powers separated by six miles clashed Oct. 23 in a 35-3 Riverside victory. If that first meeting didn’t dial up the excitement, a trip to the Superdome hangs in the balance for Round 2.
Top-seeded Riverside will host parish rival No. 5 St. Charles in a Division III semifinal at 7 p.m. Friday at Mickey Roussel Stadium. Both envisioned their seasons ending in the championship game and deem the path to get there as fitting as any.
“This particular football team has learned a lot of lessons from previous teams the last two years, and they’re turning it into something real positive,” Riverside coach Bill Stubbs said. “It would be gratifying to see those guys play for a championship and win it. They’ve certainly earned every right to do it, but they still have to push through one more wall.”
“One thing we talked about at camp was practicing on Thanksgiving morning,” St. Charles coach Frank Monica said. “Going from 100-degree heat to cold weather — to achieve that is rewarding. But our football players aren’t satisfied yet.”
For the second week in a row, the Rebels (10-1) face a District 9-2A opponent. Last week, they toppled Newman for a 10th consecutive victory and earned a trip to the semifinals for the second year in a row.
Next up is a rematch with St. Charles, a team Riverside has already defeated but must get by again if it wants to return to the Superdome for the first time since 2000.
However, Stubbs realizes St. Charles has made strides since Week 8 and his team will faces a major hurdle.
“I don’t feel there’s an advantage either way,” he said. “The first thing you have to recognize is they’re going to get better. You don’t get to the semifinals if you haven’t gotten remarkably better. One team is going to stay and one’s going to go, and the team that executes is going to move on.”
Since that loss to Riverside, the Comets (10-2) have reeled off four wins in a row and have done so with defensive dominance.
St. Charles gave up a season-high 35 points to Riverside, but has not allowed more than 20 points in any other game this season.
Monica’s Comets have allowed a combined 12 points through two playoff victories.
A win would secure St. Charles’ first trip back to the Dome since 2011, when it captured the Class 3A title.
“It’s not often in football you get a rematch with a team with so much at stake,” he said. “It’s important for us to make sure this game unfolds in our favor. There’s a confidence factor. The kids have to feel they can play at that level and not be concerned with the Superdome.”