The Riverdale Warriors traveled to Franklin High School for a cross regional battle of storied programs on Friday night. The Warriors were coming off a convincing 49-14 win over East Nashville in Week 1 while Franklin was hoping to get back on track after a 14-10 loss to rival Brentwood. Perfect August weather and a big crowd only added to the excitement as kickoff approached.
These two teams both feature run heavy offenses and the physicality was on display from the opening kickoff. Winning the battle at the line of scrimmage is always a goal in football but it is crucial to rushing success. The Rebels consistently struggled to open holes in the Riverdale defense for their running backs to exploit. The Warriors played disciplined football against the misdirection of Franklin’s offense in the first half and totally shut it down. Riverdale defensive linemen D’Andre Litaker, Warren Gibbs, Mario Sanders, and CJ Cartmell occupied Franklin’s talented offensive line and freed up the linebackers to flow freely to the ball. Rebel playmakers Davis Whitehurst and Matt Gaca tested the width of the defense repeatedly but couldn’t break free.
Riverdale also focused their offensive attack on the ground game but got off to a much better start. Senior QB Christian Souffront and RB Savion Davis work perfectly together on the read option handoff and were key to the Warrior’s score on their opening possession. Souffront kept the first option and burst through the center of the Rebel defense for a gain down to the Franklin 5 yard line. The read option would be called again but Davis kept the ball this time and finished the drive with a touchdown run. Davis was met at the goal line by a group of defenders but kept his legs churning and forced his way into the endzone. He also has a good amount of speed that was put on display later in the half when he outran the Franklin defensive secondary for an 86 yard touchdown. Riverdale would take the 14-0 lead into halftime.
Riverdale received the second half kickoff and began to move down the field once again. However, Christian Souffront was tackled from behind after a 40 yard rushing gain and remained on the ground. The Warrior’s starting QB had to be stretchered off the field with what appeared to be a serious leg injury. Players and coaches from both sidelines gathered around him to offer encouragements and well wishes as he left. Sophomore QB Taylor Yancey entered the game for Riverdale and would remain at the helm for the rest of the game. Yancey did a good job in a difficult circumstance to keep the Warrior’s offense on track. It also helped that the offensive line for the Warriors and Savion Davis continued to work together to grind out yards on the ground. Davis would add his third touchdown of the night from 2 yards out to finish off the drive and give Riverdale the 21-0 lead.
The Franklin Rebels have a lot of pride and continued to fight despite being down big on the scoreboard. They finally hit on an explosive play with just under three minutes to go in the third quarter. QB Carter Hendry followed through with his option fakes and RB Matt Gaca got temporarily lost behind the large bodies of the offensive line. Ohio State OL commit Max Wray collapsed his side of the defense and Gaca suddenly appeared streaking from the cluster of bodies for a 48 yard touchdown run. Franklin would be unable to close the gap any further and Riverdale added a late field goal to make the final score 24-7 in favor of the Warriors. Each team has a crucial regional matchup next week with Riverdale hosting Siegel and Franklin traveling to Ravenwood.
Quotes from the game
-Riverdale coach Will Kriesky on injury to Christian Souffront: “Christian has done a great job leading this team. He has really matured and changed a whole lot from his Junior to his Senior year. He’s done an excellent job. We’re praying for him. We’re praying for his family. It’s just tough, man. It was hard on me personally because I’ve grown to love that kid and be attached to him like he’s one of my own.”
-Riverdale center Ben Thompson on preparation for Franklin defense: “We knew they were going to switch (the front) up on us because we were watching film. We were really stressing both the 3-4 and the 4-3 so we were ready for whatever.”
-Riverdale LB Austin Valentine on sticking to assignments versus the option: “Really just doing our job. Coach talked about being disciplined all week long so we just stayed focused and disciplined and did our job.”
-Riverdale DL Warren Gibbs on defensive play: “We’re just working hard at practice. Going hard each play and working hard. We came out here and just put it all on the field. We played all our heart out on the field tonight.”