by Taylor Williams
November 4, 2010 – There’s little room for error and big demand for consistency in New Orleans are 2A football this year, where John Curtis, St. Charles, Newman, and Riverside are all having outstanding seasons and roaring towards the playoffs.
The Newman Greenies (7-2) square off against the Riverside Academy Rebels (7-2) this Friday in a possible playoff preview. And though postseason play is still a three week speck on the horizon, Newman’s offense under quarterback Ryan Brenner is playing with the confidence and maturity to garner momentum for a big playoff run.
The Greenies are averaging nearly 35 points per game this year, and since dropping back-to-back games against Curtis and St. Charles, they’ve posted an astounding 48 points per game in four straight blowout wins. Numbers don’t lie, and those figures indicate medicore quarterback play at the very least.
But the 6-foot-0, 180 pound senior signal caller has been better than mediocre. He’s not only working with more experience this year, but also a much improved offensive line and multitude of playmaking receivers, led by senior O’Dell Beckham, who runs 4.4 forty yard dash and does triple dut as a cornerback and kick returner. Collectively, the improved line and receivers have really opened up the vertical passing game for Brenner and kept the box less crowded with opposing run-stoppers.
But that would all be for naught without a dependable quarterback. Newman’s offense will face Riverside’s unique 3-5 defense this week, an unsual scheme predicated on outstanding linebacker and safety play. But that shouldn’t pose a huge problem for Brenner, according to head coach Nelson Stewart.
“The season Ryan is having is a testament to how much he’s learned,” Stewart said. “He identifies coverages well, doesn’t throw a lot of interceptions, and he takes what the defense gives him. He’s athletic enough to make plays outside the pocket and he’s done a good job of sprinkling the ball around.”
He’ll need all those abilities this week, and the threat of a veritcal passing game so Riverside can’t continually bring seven and eight man rushes and force hurried reads ans subsequent turnovers. The Rebels’ defense is also exceptionally good in the open field, which makes the vertical threat even more crucial.
As for Newman’s defense, they’ll have to play equally well in the open field against an explosive Rebels’ spread offense. And with Riverside’s athleticism at the quarterback and wide receiver positions, timing and clean execution of the pass rush could be the game-changer. But regardless of the final outcome, it should be a hard-fought battle with a possible playoff rematch waiting in the wings.
“It could be a playoff preview,” Coach Stewart said. “But more importantly I think it’s a chance for us to gauge our improvement since the St. Charles game against a good team.”