There’s something big brewing in Beaver Country.
A 5-1 start, fueled by a four-game winning streak, has coach Dave Bors’ Riverside gridders off to their best start since his senior players were in the first grade (2000), has a crackle in the air in Painesville Township.
However, one misstep can burst any bubble, starting with Saturday’s Premier Athletic Conference clash at University School, which will kick off at 2 p.m.
Bors, now in his third season at the helm at Riverside after successful tenure at West Geauga, is keenly aware of the dangers this matchup presents.
First, the Beavers are rolling, as their four-game winning streak attests.
Second, Riverside is tied with four-time defending champion and state-ranked South for the top spot in the PAC standings at 3-0.
Third, the Preppers, despite their 28-6 PAC win at Lakeside last week that snapped a three-game skid, are not the team that whipped Riverside in the first-ever matchup between the schools, 44-22, en route to a 9-1 regular season and a berth in the Division III, Region 9 playoffs.
Fourth, playing a Saturday-afternoon game disrupts the Beavers’ routine.
All of which has Bors and his staff going the extra mile to make sure no stone is left unturned in terms of preparation, along with awareness.
“No way will we overlook them,” Bors, the former Chardon standout during his playing days, said. “They are too talented of a team to overlook them.
“Plus, throw in the fact that we play Saturday afternoon for the only time this year I think will make it easy to keep US at the forefront of our minds.”
As far as change of routine, Bors admits it is at least something to guard against.
“I am a little concerned about the change in routine — it’s something everyone has to adapt to, but obviously, when you throw change at anyone, it sometimes takes awhile to adapt,” he said. “Our guys have done a good job this year in adapting to changes, but this will be one where we have to work at a little harder.
“The bottom line is, we’ll have to figure it out because US isn’t going to care or take it easy on us because we’re a little out of our comfort zone.”
Last week against Geneva, Riverside’s comfort zone was on defense, especially.
Facing the area’s top rusher and scorer in Eagle sophomore running back Aaron Rossi, the Beavers — with full attention focused on Rossi, who was playing with a sore shoulder — contained him, anyway, holding him to 83 yards on 22 carries, one of which produced Geneva’s only touchdown, a 5-yard run.
“We looked at it as a big challenge,” Bors said. “Rossi was coming into the game as the leading point getter, as well as the leading rusher, in your coverage area.
“Add to that, the fact that Geneva had the No. 2 offense in your coverage area, we were pretty excited to see where we stacked up.”
And the Riverside offense did its job, too. Quarterback Maxx Brubaker, the area’s leader in passing yardage (1,194) and touchdown tosses (12), completed 12 of 23 attempts for 205 yards, including a 76-yard lightning bolt to Matt Milostan (4 catches, 118 yards), for a touchdown that sealed the deal.
Once again, the Beavers were balanced on offense, running for 173 yards, too, averaging an impressive 7.0 yards on each of their 54 offensive plays.
Bors’ bunch will need more of the same if it is to conquer US — which runs the shotgun spread on offense and a 3-4 on defense — and push its winning streak to five, another mark not touched since the aforementioned 2000 team of legendary coach Don Andersen won its last five games en route to the playoffs.
“They’re very good... this is a talented football team, no question,” Bors said. “They have the leading receiver in a lot of area comparisons in Luke Vadas, as well as their running back, Andrew Dorogi (23 carries for 253 yards last week at Lakeside), who returns off of last year’s playoff team.
“Since they graduated a lot like we did, you can tell their guys are becoming more comfortable in their roles as the season progresses.”
With a rare Friday night off, Bors and his staff will be out in force scouting their final three opponents — Chardon, South and Madison — games that will determine Riverside’s fate, not only in the PAC title chase, but also the Division I, Region 1 playoffs. The Beavers enter Saturday’s clash at US rated 16th in the rugged region, despite their 5-1 record.
“We’re obviously tweaking some things in terms of practice and preparation,” he said. “I think my bigger concern right now in looking at the big picture is we’re going to have a shorter turn around and prep time for Chardon.
“Geneva plays at Chardon, so that’s a must for the majority of my staff. We’re lucky because South and Madison play each other, so we’ll send a few guys to eyeball them, as well.
“As a staff we have the opportunity to see our last three opponents live, so we have to take advantage of it.”
But, the biggest task of the week will be Saturday at US.
“We need to finish drives on offense,” Bors said. “We need to limit their big plays, especially by Vadas.
“And we need to win the turnover battle.”
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