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Riverside changed its culture, building off successful 4A season

By Garrett Mitchell, Staff Reporter
Published on Tuesday, July 28, 2015

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The Riverside Warriors had plenty to cheer about last year – winning their first Region II-4A game and making the playoffs in arguably the toughest region in South Carolina high school football.
 
 

The Riverside Warriors had plenty to cheer about last year – winning their first Region II-4A game and making the playoffs in arguably the toughest region in South Carolina high school football.

 

 



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Antoine Kahalek, a junior kicker, will be a weapon with his kickoffs frequently sailing into the end zone and capable of kicking long-range field goals.
 

Antoine Kahalek, a junior kicker, will be a weapon with his kickoffs frequently sailing into the end zone and capable of kicking long-range field goals.

 



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Corey Bridges will see double duty at tight end and halfback.
 

Corey Bridges will see double duty at tight end and halfback.

 

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The Riverside football program grew dramatically in the 2014 football season under new Head Coach Phil Smith.

The Warriors finished 5-7, made the playoffs, and recorded its first victory over Spartanburg County contender Boiling Springs in a tension-filled overtime thriller. Riverside looks for a talented group of young players to continue that success this season after losing a host of experienced seniors to graduation.

High school football practice officially begins Friday.

Smith had a conversation with GreerToday.com about this year's Riverside team.

Q: How many offensive and defensive starters do you return from last season?

A: Three on offense and two on defense.

Q: What is the base offense and defense that you will run this year?

A: We're based out of a 3-4 (on defense). That may change to a 4-2 depending on some personnel issues we may have. We run the whole gamut when it comes to defenses. Offensively we are a spread, multi-offense, a lot like Auburn, Clemson, what they do. We run a lot of zone reads, package plays where we have three plays in one. It puts the defense at a disadvantage.

Q: What will be the strengths of this year's Riverside team?

A: Right now it's the unknown. We have Corey Bridges at tight end and halfback and Stephan Garber at center who is a returning starter and all-region player last year and leader on our football team. Jeremiah Bogan returns at corner who is a great football player. So we have so many younger guys stepping up. Antoine Kahaleh, our kicker, and you don't get to talk about kickers a whole lot, but he has really worked hard this offseason. I can't pinpoint a strength right now because we are so young and have so many new guys stepping in.

Q: Speaking of kicking, how important will Kahaleh's talents factor in to this year's success?

A: It's amazing. When you know the opposing team is going to kick it in the end zone, you know you have to drive 80 yards to score, that in itself is a weapon, especially in high school. It's a huge momentum shift when you're dealing with special teams or the kicking game, especially if you have a kicker that consistently puts it in the end zone, makes them drive 80 yards, or feel comfortable with him kicking a 42-yard field goal.. You know, if we can win a game 3-0 I would love it and obviously there's a lot of facets that go in, but the kicking game is so important. I think Antoine has worked hard enough that we're going to reap the benefits this year.

Q: How much confidence does last year's win over Boiling Springs carry over into this season?

A: I think that was a major turning point for our program last year. Showing our guys and our community that what we're doing is working and that we can compete if we play the game. I think the mental aspect of it was huge because sometimes when the bigger Spartanburg schools come over, or we go to them, it's a mental block and mentally they're defeated already. I think we were able to overcome that part. When that happened, I think that carried a lot of weight throughout the rest of the year and the kids believed. I think we've passed that hurdle with these guys. That's a good carry over.

Q: What are your expectations for the 2015 Riverside Warriors?

A: (The young players) are bigger and stronger and faster than last year as they matured, obviously, but we look for them to come in, we haven't changed anything offensively and defensively, so for them to just carry on the things that they've learned up to this point and continue to learn. They're an exciting bunch of guys that are coming in. They're hungry to show what they can do.

2015 schedule

All games 7:30 p.m.

Aug. 28 vs. Eastside

Sept. 4 at Greer

Sept. 11 at Woodmont

Sept. 18 vs. Hillcrest

Sept. 25 at Spartanburg

Oct. 2 at Boiling Springs

Oct. 9 vs. Byrnes

Oct. 15 vs. Mauldin (Thursday, televised on MY40)

Oct. 23 at J.L. Mann

Oct. 30 vs. Wade Hampton

Nov. 6 at Dorman

Jayvee schedule

Aug. 27 vs. Southside, 6 p.m.

Sept. 3 vs. Greer, 6:30 p.m.

Sept. 10 Open

Sept. 17 at Hillcrest, 6 p.m.

Sept. 24 vs. Spartanburg, 6 p.m.

Oct. 1 vs. Boiling Springs, 6:30 p.m.

Oct. 8 at Byrnes 6:30 p.m.

Oct. 14 at Mauldin, 6 p.m. (Wednesday)

Oct. 22 vs. J.L. Mann

Nov. 5 vs. Dorman, 6 p.m.

 

 

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