By VINCE PELUSO
While the 2013 regular season didn’t end exactly how Riverside coach David Bors would’ve liked — a 28-0 defeat at rival Madison in Week 10 — there was little reason for disappointment in the Beavers’ camp.
Riverside (7-3, 6-1 in PAC) is co-champion of the Premier Athletic Conference and, more importantly, is still playing football in Week 11 as they travel to Brecksville-Broadview Heights (9-1) for a Division II, Region 3 quarterfinal game Friday.
“(The kids responded) real good, we all kind of had to move forward,” Bors said. “We realize we’re 0-0 and no matter what we did well or poorly prior to this, it’s time to start our one-week season.”
And the fact that Riverside is still playing football this week is a quite an achievement, something Bors has tried to instill into his players since the Beavers officially received the No. 7 seed in Division II.
“It’s awesome, I think this is sixth time (Riverside) has been in and we’ve never won a playoff game,” he said. “From where we’ve come, and now we’re talking about spirit buses for parents and students, signs around the school. We told the kids, roughly 500 teams turned in their equipment this weekend. This is the state of Ohio playoffs. This is not the conference or something local. This is the state of Ohio playoffs. It’s special. Don Andersen, the legendary Riverside coach, been around a lot the last year or two and he spoke to the kids today to help them understand how special it is.
“This is a big deal. This was one of our goals — to get to November. We talked about it and expected it, but none the less we don’t want to be wide-eyed about it. This isn’t a given or a guarantee, there are too many good teams on our schedule and in our region. This is very special and you can see renewed energy in our kids.”
Bors said it was a strange feeling after the disappointment of Friday’s shutout loss.
Instead of being in all-out celebration mode, the Beavers were more anxious to see what was next than reflect on what had been accomplished.
“It was good, kind of knowing we were in either way, but it’s unfortunate the last game ended the way it did, it was kind of like, ‘yeah, whoo hoo we’re in,’” he said. “The feeling was more so eagerness than excitement. Because in any other year, that might’ve been the way the career of seniors ended so there was a feeling of wanting to get redemption and vindication.
“But, once we started trading films and we had our spot locked up, we forgot about Friday pretty quickly.”
Still, Bors and his staff needed to analyze what happened on Friday so a repeat performance doesn’t happen in Week 11.
“We didn’t execute on offense, No.1. A couple key penalties hurt,” he said. “Defensively, I thought we were OK. Madison is a good, physical team. They had a lot of momentum and there were a lot of emotions. Normally, our offense has done such a great job of getting momentum back for us. I told the kids if we played pretty good and that was the outcome, I’d be worried. There were so many things we need to, and can do, better from that game.
“We try to tell the kids losing stinks, but if you get exposed and you can learn from it we’ll figure out how to deal with the loss. I’m not going to cry about it. We’ve got a lot to work on offense and defensively we have to shore some things up. But, I want to publicly give Madison credit. They had a lot to do with the outcome of that game.”
Now, Bors and his Beavers turn ahead to a Brecksville-Broadview Heights team that, in short, has been excellent this season, posting a 9-1 record.
However, the Bees are not totally unknown to Riverside.
“Brecksville is a very good team,” he said. “I don’t think a lot of people realize we have scrimmaged them the past three or four years, so we have a little idea what they do, but both of us are very vanilla in scrimmages, although I don’t think either of us expected to see the other again. Their defense stands out first, how aggressive they, they remind me of Madison. They fly to the football and have athletes. Their one linebacker is a Division I recruit.
“Tom Tupa’s kid (Tim) is the quarterback and he’s a big scrambler. Probably one of the biggest scrambling threats we’ve seen this year. He can really get going and keep plays alive.”
The younger Tupa is the son of the former Ohio State quarterback/punter who later played for the Cleveland Browns among other teams during his seven-team, 17-year NFL career.
The Bees are multiple offensively, predominantly operating out of the shotgun with Tupa as the main threat.
Needless to say, Bors said the emphasis is trying to slow him down.
“They run some play action off the zone, they’ll drop back and get Tupa sprinting, their main run plays are inside and outside zone and they stay in the shotgun a lot,” Bors said. “We need to contain Tupa. We need to make sure if we lose, somebody else better beat us. Like the cliché goes, we’re not going to stop him, but we hope to contain him and not let him go off for 200 yards passing and 200 yards rushing.”
While many spectators’ eyes focus on Tupa, it’s actually the Brecksville defense that has been the center of its success.
The Bees have only allowed more than 14 points once this season, that coming in a 15-14 double-overtime defeat at 9-1 Hudson, the No. 3 seed in Division I, Region I.
Brecksville is allowing just 9.7 points a game and hasn’t been in many close contests.
All nine of its victories have come by double digits with their average margin of victory at 25.7 points per game.
“That’s exactly what’s going on, they’ve really only given up a big play here or there,” Bors said when asked if the Bees’ defense was the main factor in their dominant scores. “They just play so solid. We never put up a lot of points on them when we scrimmage, they’ve always played a base, sound defense. They give you a few different looks but they basically do what they do. Kind of like our defense, we don’t give you 10 different coverages. We do what we do and try to do it very well.”
Bors described the Bees’ defense as predominantly a four-man front with two inside and outside linebackers, that most would consider a 4-4.
The Beavers appear to be relatively healthy going into the contest.
Wide receiver Pat Remington didn’t play last week and Bors said he’s preparing to play without him against Brecksville, but that could change.
“He is going to do a little running this week, we’re looking at him maybe being ready for Friday, but we’re not going to re-evaulate him until later in the week so we might not know until Friday morning,” he said. “We’re preparing for life without him. We would love to have him back, it’d be nice, but he’s going to have a good amount of rust on him, I’m sure. We’re planning on life without him.”
Bors said if the Beavers are to come out of Friday victorious, they will need to take care of the football and stay balanced on offense.
“I think we just need to play very balanced and win the turnover battle,” he said. “You cannot give extra possessions to playoff teams. We need to take a few back ourselves. Offensively, we need to do what we’ve done the majority of the season when healthy — spread the ball around laterally and vertically. We have a lot of guys who need touches and we need to get them touches. Defensively, we obviously need to contain Tupa.”