Riverdale was rocking in anticipation of the Warriors matchup against the 2022 6A runner up, the Beech Buccaneers. The Bucs had made the 55-mile trip through Nashville from Hendersonville to Murfreesboro and were looking to get back on track after a loss to a talented Collierville team last week. Riverdale was FA I g its second 5A-7 team in as many weeks after losing to Beech rival, Henry County, last week. Both teams were determined for different outcomes this weekend.
Early on the game was a defensive war as both teams turned each other away, back and forth, deep into the first quarter. Then, the lid came off as the number 47 player in Tennessee, QB Braden Graham, found the number 11 player in the state CB/WR Jaylen Thompson, deep down the sideline to set the Warriors up in scoring position. Two plays later, Keshawn Williams cashed it in on a short pass from Graham. With 3:00 to go Riverdale led 7-0. Beech’s offense came back on the field looking for any daylight through what had been a brick wall of a Warrior defense. Kaden Powell, the 6’4 240lb QB who looked more like an SEC linebacker than a high school quarterback, had some extremely physical runs to that point but it hadn’t been enough and once again the Bucs were stopped without being able to move the ball, setting the Warriors up with a short field. That’s how the first quarter would come to a close and the teams would switch the field with Riverdale facing a 3rd and 10.
After making it a 4th and 1, Riverdale elected to go for it and converted, moving inside the Beech 25 before being faced with a 3rd and 16 after an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. It was once again 4th down, this time with 3 yards to go so Riverdale decided to kick and was successful, adding 3 points to their lead making it 10-0 Warriors. The Riverdale defense continued to look impenetrable, turning the Bucs away time after time. The Bucs defense stepped up however and gave their offense another chance with just over 5:00 to go in the half. Powell got the drive started with another downhill physical run, but there just wasn’t anything Beech was doing that was consistently working well against the Riverdale defense that was making the Bucs look extremely one dimensional with that one dimension being the QB power. Once again the Buccaneer defense got the ball back to their offense and this time with great field position after a targeting penalty on the Riverdale punt. With 2:00 remaining, Beech was moving in to make it just a 3-point game. Powell rumbled his way to the 4 after a long completion over the middle making it second and goal. On the next play, Micheal Parson charged into the endzone for Beech and with 45 seconds left in the half Beech trailed just 10-7. That’s how the half would end after an 80 yard touchdown was called back due to a penalty and both teams headed into their locker rooms most likely feeling like they missed some opportunities.
While teams are not on the field during halftime, it wasn’t any less eventful as a Riverdale student was able to make his way to the away stands and steal the Beech cheer squad’s flag sand return to the Warriors student section. The flag was waived in victory before being passed to the top of the stands and thrown off the back.
In what had been a slow knockdown drag out of a game so far, Keyshawn Williams wasted no time sparking the energy for Riverdale as he returned the opening kick to the 40 and had one man to beat for a touchdown. That momentum didn’t last long as the Beech defense turned it around by stopping a fake punt attempt by Riverdale and immediately picking up a first down. The Warriors were able take the Beech offense to 4th down and it seemed we were right back to the mud fight we had in the first half until Beech sent the offense back onto the field. Powell found a wide open Rubin Stanberry near the 15 who ran over two Riverdale defenders on the goal line to make it 14-10 Beech. Riverdale needed a response and true to the theme of the game it came in the form of a nearly 6 minute drive resulting in a short field goal. With 2:59 remaining in the 3rd Beech’s lead had been cut to 14-13. The Riverdale defense forced a three and out following their offense putting points up on the board and the Warriors had flipped field position for the first time in what had felt like ages. We moved into the fourth quarter with Riverdale looking to take the lead back.
The Buccaneers defense, after giving up a 4th down conversion, held strong and forced another field goal attempt, this time with goal to go. Riverdale kicker, Khalil Arman, converted his 3rd of the night giving the Warriors a slim 16-14 lead with 9:30 to play. The Bucs were not able to do anything with the ball and gave Riverdale an opportunity to extend that lead. With 6:44 to go the Warriors stepped on to the field with and opportunity to put the game out of reach, but once again would leave without scoring any points. With 4:30 to play, Beech had new life. As Beech began to move the ball the clock began to tick. Time was becoming a factor quickly so Beech took a timeout to talk things over with 2:53 left in the game with the ball on the 50. Down just two points, a late field goal would win it. 3rd and two with 1:30 to go. Converted! But holding on the Bucs. 3rd and 12 two downs could decide the game. Riverdale swallowed up the run play on third down. With 39 seconds to go, Beech faced a 4th and 12. The Oline gave Powell time, and he uncorked a long, high pass but his receiver was double covered and could not come down with the pass. Riverdale, in comeback fashion, on their home field, escaped with a 16-14 win. In the team huddle post-game, Coach Kriesky stressed finishing to his team. He said it wasn’t pretty, but his team learned from a loss last week and he was proud of them for finishing this week.
Our MVP of the game is Riverdale Kicker, Khalil Arman. Khalil was responsible for 9 of Riverdale’s 16 points and hit the game winning field goal. You can find the interview with our MVP below.