It will be a banged-up Kell (4-1) team that takes the field for its subregion opener, with several members of its vaunted secondary nursing injuries.
“It is what it is,” Kell coach Derek Cook said. “We’ve got to play well, injuries or no injuries. We can’t use that as an excuse. Riverwood probably has some injuries and if not, good for them. We have to come out and execute, whether we have injuries or not.”
It will be the first time that Kell has ever faced Riverwood on the gridiron, but that is not a big factor for Cook.
“To be honest, that’s the tale of our season,” Cook said. “We’ve played a number of different teams that we’ve never played before. We never played Chattahoochee, we never played North Springs. That’s something that we run into year to year, playing teams that we never played before or playing teams that have changed their scheme. We have seen Riverwood on film, so we’ve gotten a little familiar with them.”
Making things even more challenging for the Longhorns is playing a resurgent Riverwood squad, which has stormed out to a 5-0 start — the Raiders’ first since 1986.
“(Riverwood coach (Robert) Ingram has done a great job,” Cook said. “They have improved every year that he has been there.”
For Cook, stopping a potent Riverwood offense that has averaged 41 points a game is among his biggest concerns.
“Offensively, they run the triple option, which Georgia Tech runs, and they run it well,” Cook said. “Defensively, they have some big, athletic, physical kids who tackle well and line up well. Also, we have to go out to their place. They’re 5-0 and the players, parents and community there are excited, and that’s a big advantage for them.”
Riverwood coach Robert Ingram and his Raiders face the challenge of going up a Kell squad that has already established itself as a top-flight program in the state.
“Kell has a rich tradition of excellence that we are striving for in our program,” Ingram said. “To be able to play against such a well-coached team on such a big stage is a tremendous opportunity for us. Coach Cook and his staff have done such a great job with that program. His players play hard and are as fundamentally sound as they come. I expect our players to come out and fight for each other as we have all year. I believe it’s a showcase of one established program and one program that is on it’s way to being established.”
As Kell prepares to face such a young and rising team in Riverwood, Cook is confident he will have some of his injured players back in uniform tonight.
“Right now, they are practicing, but we don’t know if they will be ready for the collisions they will have to take in a game,” Cook said. “We won’t know until (tonight).”