Changing the culture and “breaking the chain” were two of the main goals the Riverbend Bears had in mind going into Friday’s game at Maury Stadium against a potentially-explosive James Monroe Yellow Jackets’ team.
The Bears mounted 64- and 35-yard scoring drives on their first two possessions and limited JM to seven first downs and 135 total yards en route to a 22–6 victory. Riverbend won following two lop-sides losses to open the season, while JM prevailed in their first two starts.
“JM is a very talented team and Coach Serbay does a fantastic job down there,” said first-year coach Nathan Yates. “Our defensive coach Byron Allen put together the game plan and our kids executed it perfectly. It says a lot to stop a team like this and I’m excited about going forward.”
Sophomore Aiden Fisher had a monster game for the Bears, rushing for 88 yards on 18 carries and two touchdowns as well as recording a team-high nine tackles from his linebacking post.
“All we did was focus, everybody was practicing hard to change the culture,” the 6-foot-1, 215-pound sophomore said.
Riverbend’s Marquees Foster had one of his two team’s interceptions and relayed the saga of “The old man, the little boy and the dog” that Yates told his team as a motivating tool.
“The dog was always bullied by the little boys and the old man told him the need to break the chain and be angry,” Foster recounted. “We came out there and did our thing: We broke the chain.”
Yates’ lone regret was the 66 yards marched off on nine penalties, nullifying several long runs. One of the infractions was a dead-ball unsportsmanlike conduct call which followed a 31-yard kickoff return by J.T. Harvey that came after JM’s lone score.
“From the beginning of the season, we have come a lot farther. We weren’t close-knit like we are right now,” said Harvey, a standout for the Bears at linebacker. “[Fisher’s scores] was a huge boost. I think we needed that. ... This is a huge ego boost for Chancellor [next week].”
Both Jacket quarterbacks, Tahj Smith and Aidan Ryan, who scored on a 3-yard run following a blocked punt, were under constant pressure from the Bears defense. Skyer Grant’s hit on Smith caused an interception that Jalen Gilmore returned 66 yards for Riverbend’s final score.
“Jalen ran for his life. It was amazing for him,” Yates said of the 5-9, 159-pound defensive back’s mad dash to the goal line.
Foster added: “We were pumped up all week. We couldn’t wait to play this Friday.”
While the Bears look to continue their physical and dominating style of play next Friday at Chancellor, the Yellow Jackets look to rebound when they visit Mountain View.
Rb—Aiden Fisher 14-yard run (Carrick Proctor kick).
Rb—Fisher 17-yard run (Proctor kick).
JM—Aidan Ryan 3-yard run (kick failed).
Rb—Safety, Tahj Smith of JM tackled in end zone.
Rb—Jalen Gilmore 66-yard interception (kick failed).
RUSHING: Riverbend—Aiden Fisher 18-88, 2 TDs; Tony Skinner 5-40; Jamarius Thomas 8-42; Marquees Foster 4-(-10); JT Harvey 2-14. James Monroe—Deonte Curry 6-23; Tahj Smith 5-15; Aidan Ryan 7-14; Dimario Brooks 2-19; Jawuan Fauntleroy 3-7.
PASSING: Riverbend—Fisher 0-2-0; Foster 0-2-0. James Monroe—Smith 7-15-2, 51 yards; Ryan 1-3-0, 6 yards.
RECEIVING: Riverbend—none. James Monroe—Tyler Whitman 4-35; Gleason 1-13; Curry 1-5; Brooks 1-3; Ryan 1-1.