According to coach Robert Braucht, the players have gotten the message that hard works pays off.
“They picked up on that on their own,” Braucht said. “It’s not like in the previous three games the work hadn’t been paying off. Really, a lot of it was us playing to our potential. When you do that, good things are going to happen for you.”
A week after winning at LaFayette, River Ridge (1-3) will return to the road Friday to play Northwest Whitfield (3-0) in its final Region 7AAAA crossover game. It’s the final tuneup for the Knights before they begin their subregion schedule next week at Cedartown.
Braucht said that while his players are showing improvement, there’s always more work to be done.
“I’m one of those coaches that it doesn’t matter what our record is, whether we are 0-4, 1-3 or 4-0,” he said. “Wherever we are, there is always more to be done. Are we going in the right direction? Definitely. It’s one of those things where, once we easily achieve one goal, we have already got another goal written down that we are working on.
“My biggest thing is that we have to remember to play fast.”
Some of the pitfalls of playing fast are penalties, turnovers and missed assignments. The Knights have experienced all this season. But against LaFayette, it all seemed to come together for a 28-0 victory.
Braucht is hoping his team can replicate the success on the field Friday against Northwest Whitfield, but he knows that won’t be easy.
“There is no doubt they are very well-coached,” Braucht said. “They are a very disciplined team. They do what they do well.”
Playing in what is considered the tougher side of Region 7AAAA, Northwest Whitfield got off to a 6-3 start last season before losing a play-in game against Gilmer, 40-37 in triple overtime. The loss kept the Bruins at home and left them eager to turn things around.
So far, they have, averaging more than 40 points per game.
“I would definitely say they have improved,” Braucht said. “There is no doubt about that. I don’t know that they will be a tougher challenge, but they have created a different atmosphere for themselves. We will just have to see what happens.”
The River Ridge offense, which had seemed lost through the first three games of the season, appeared to have found life last week. Running backs E.J. Ellis and Teodore Simenov combined for more than 150 yards last week, while quarterback Steven Spears was 4-of-9 for 55 yards.
“We don’t have one player that has turned it up, but most importantly, our young kids that have been working hard and competing against the older kids are realizing that there is a benefit to that,” Braucht said. “It’s refreshing to see them working hard every day to make the whole team better.”