The Riverside Rebels have 15 of 22 starters back from a team that made it to the Superdome.
Riverside fell one game short of a state title last year, and these Rebels have more than half of their offensive and defensive starters back from that team.
Junior quarterback Jordan Loving missed almost the entire season with a back injury, but head coach Bill Stubbs said he's had a great summer. People might wonder what kind of difference he could have made for an 11-2 team that was just 12 points shy of a perfect record and whose only losses came to a state champ and state runner-up.
"It all starts up front with our offensive line. We've got four starters coming back from last year and we've got another couple of other guys that we're going to plug in up front this year that should do a great job for us," Loving said.
"This is a group that's going to be real special. There's no personalities that are just above the football team. They're handling everything with a lot of character," Stubbs said.
"For me, it's just about doing everything I can to where I look back and just have no regrets on the season and my high school career," Loving said. "To where I don't let anybody down, you know teammate-wise, community-wise, because we play for everybody here."
Junior running back Jeremy Gibson moves into a starting role for an offense that averaged 43 points a game in district play and 43 points a game in the playoffs until the finals. Jared Hymel will take over much of the role 4-year starter and Warrick Dunn finalist Evan Veron filled for last year's 11-2 runners up in Division III. The two losses by one point to state finalist John Ehret and 13-3 to Notre Dame in the finals.
"That thing hung around all the way through training, from when it happened in December," Stubbs said. "It's still with us right now, so I think that I feel pretty good about where we're at right now. We've got a lot of kids back. We're bigger and we're faster and we're stronger, so we'll see."
"We still have a horrible taste in our mouth from what happened in the Superdome," Loving said. "We're really looking forward to getting back at it this year and trying to win the whole thing in the Dome."
"We never settle for anything less. We never just try to make the playoffs or anything like that so," said junior wide receiver and quarterback Jared Butler.
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