The remnants of Hurricane Harvey forced the delay of many high school football games across the mid state on Friday night. However, two quality football teams kept their appointment in south Murfreesboro in a key Region 3-6A matchup. The Riverdale Warriors played host to the Siegel Stars in the region opener for both programs. The rain would fall continuously until late in the 4th quarter and would have an impact on each team’s strategy for the contest.
Both teams were conservative on offense early on as they felt out the wet conditions and their opponent. The Stars have been explosive on offense through the first two weeks this fall behind talented running back Lelan Wilhoite. Siegel featured Wilhoite heavily early and found multiple ways for him to touch the football. He motioned for a handoff, swung out to catch a pass, lined up at receiver and lined up as a traditional back all within the first few drives. Riverdale’s defense did a good job playing disciplined football to prevent Wilhoite from hitting on a huge play. Warrior middle linebacker Austin Rowland was very active all night and made several key stops against the run. The Stars’ defense also found early success stopping Riverdale RB Savion Davis and first time QB starter Taylor Yancey. Joseph Anderson and his fellow Siegel defensive linemen more than held their own against the Riverdale offensive line throughout the first quarter. The opening period would end with the game still tied at 0-0.
Riverdale had been unable to score in the first quarter but had slowly begun to turn the field position battle in their favor. The payoff would come on a 19 yard Savion Davis touchdown run off left tackle to put the Warriors up 6-0. The PAT was blocked in a foreshadowing of failed point after touchdown attempts all night. Riverdale controlled the next portion of the game and seemed likely to carry the lead into halftime but Siegel struck on its own big play just before the break. Neither team had attempted many passes to this point as the rain and wind combined to make any success through the air almost impossible. However, the Stars made a great call and completely fooled Riverdale on a well executed play action pass with under a minute to go in the half. Siegel quarterback Brendan Crowell sold the fake handoff to Wilhoite convincingly before finding his receiver Mathew James. James made an excellent catch in the rain as he slid down at the one while making the play. Wilhoite would finish the drive by leaping over the line and into the endzone a few plays later with just 25 seconds left in the half. Siegel muffed the PAT snap and had to settle for another tie 6-6 at halftime.
The rain intensified as the second half began but the Warrior offense came out of the locker room on fire. Savion Davis opened the half with several punishing runs that moved the ball deep into Siegel territory. Riverdale’s offensive line started winning the battle up front more consistently and gave Davis an opportunity to run downhill. Riverdale called a play action pass of their own from the Stars’ 10 yard line and sophomore QB Taylor Yancey connected with TE Austin Valentine for the touchdown. Valentine did a good job slipping out into the flat unnoticed and made the catch through the heavy rainfall. Once again the PAT snap was mishandled and Riverdale now led 12-6.
Impressively, there was only one turnover in the game despite the wet conditions but it would spell disaster for Siegel on the next series. The Stars were moving the ball in an attempt to respond to the Riverdale score but the ball was separated from Lelan Wilhoite as he struggled for extra yards and recovered by the Warriors. Riverdale extended their lead shortly thereafter when a falling Yancey pitched the ball out to Davis for a 30 yard touchdown run down the home sideline. Riverdale attempted a two point conversion but it was unsuccessful. The result was a new score of 18-6 in favor of Riverdale.
Siegel had some more opportunities to close the gap but two failed 4th down attempts inside Riverdale territory ended their hopes. The Warriors were able to take the victory formation to end the game and earn their first region win of the season 18-6. The win also improves Riverdale’s overall record to 3-0 a week before they are set to host 3-0 Spring Hill. Siegel falls to 1-2 for the year with both losses coming against quality opponents. The Stars will host Antioch in Week 4. The Riverdale Warriors have proven they belong in the discussion with Oakland and Blackman at the top of Region 3-6A.
Quotes from the game
-Riverdale OL Jordan Cordoba on preparation for physical games: “We just kept repping everything. We conditioned a lot and got ready for these moments. This goes out to the coaching staff. I’m really grateful they coached us this hard.”
-Riverdale LB Austin Rowland on the defense’s success: “We do tackling drills almost every single day every week. Our coaches are always on us about finishing and that’s what we try to do.”
-Riverdale DB Jarek Campbell on his team’s growth: “We have grown up a lot. Last year we didn’t finish but this year the coaches have been on us about finishing strong.”