Big Upset Friday Night

By Molly Seales

On Friday, August 19, the Riverdale Academy Rebels opened their football season with a road game against defending 2A state champion Prairie View Academy, which they knew would prove to be a formidable opponent. With this being a rebuilding year after losing 80% of the players who scored last year, expectations were that they boys would give it 110% but getting the road win against PVA would be quite a challenge. Down 30-6 at the half, Coach Jared Smelser took his team to the locker room, and the team that came back out was totally different. PVA struck first in the second half, making the score 36-6. Then here came the Rebels! They fought their way back play by play and pulled off a 40-36 upset win over PVA to open the season at 1-0.

The Rebels had 331 total yards with 6 touchdowns, including a kickoff return touchdown by junior Kyle Guillory. Returning junior quarterback Ryder Huddleston settled his offense into a running game and the Rebels came alive, having 37 rushes for 362 yards. Huddleston had 20 carries for 198 yards and 2 touchdowns. Guillory had 13 carries for 100 yards and another touchdown. Sophomore Kaidyn Williams, who played his first year of football last year and had limited playing time, stepped up big in the first game of the season. He had 4 carries for 64 yards and 2 touchdowns. Huddleston was 1 for 6 in passing with junior Landen Barrett receiving a 3-yard pass.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night was the emergence of freshman #2 Ashton Almond. As the youngest grandson of six of the late Tremmell Almond, who was an outstanding player himself, Ashton has been working and waiting on his turn. It came Friday night as he had a chance to play with his older brother Ben, who is a senior this year. His brothers and cousins were all outstanding football players, and he proved he was going to be able to play just like they did. Almond had 6 tackles, including 2 TFL, 3 assists, 1 PBU, and 1 forced fumble, while brother Ben had 1 assist and 1 fumble recovery. Huddleston was as effective on defense as he was on offense, with 7 tackles, 2 TFL, 2 assists, and 1 PBU. Barrett had 4 tackles, 1 assist, and 1 PBU, while Williams had 3 tackles, 1 assist, and 1 PBU. Senior Jace Wilhite had 2 tackles, 2 assists, and 1 PBU, while fellow senior James Wagoner had a tackle. Guillory had a tackle that was a TFL, a forced fumble, and 2 fumble recoveries. Sophomore Aston Hester had 2 tackles, 1 assist, and an interception. Junior lineman Hayden Hillman had 3 tackles including one TFL and a forced fumble.

The entire coaching staff was so proud of this team. In a year where the only expectations were really to rebuild, the Rebels came out and showed they are reloading in the process. The Rebels will be on the road again next Friday night as they travel to Union Christian Academy in Farmerville. Kickoff time is 7:00 p.m. Let’s go Riverdale!

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