The Knights (1-4) will be tasked with slowing down the Bulldogs star running back, Nick Chubb. The Georgia commitment is averaging more yards per game than the entire River Ridge offense.
With 1,356 yards through five games, Chubb is averaging 271.2 yards per game. His best performance came a week ago in a 42-28 victory over Southeast Whitfield, when he ran for 369 yards and five touchdowns on 28 carries.
In comparison, River Ridge’s offense is averaging fewer than 250 yards. In the Knights’ best game of the season, they scored a total of four touchdowns — one of which was actually accounted for by the defense — and accounted for just 276 yards of offense.
“He is a very good running back,” River Ridge coach Robert Braucht said of Chubb. “We let (the players) know that they can and will compete with (Cedartown), just like any other team, but it is going to come down to the team that does the best, and who makes the least number of mistakes.”
Still, the Knights haven’t spent this week preparing to contain one player. They have spent the week attempting to improve as a team.
“We are working on the fundamentals,” Braucht said. “Defensively, we are trying to get our keys and reads down. Learn our assignments on offense, like we do every week.”
While River Ridge’s defense likely won’t be able to stop Chubb, they can at least try to slow him down. But to do that, it may require career-defining games from several defensive players, including Marcus Spears, Cameron Johnson and Seth Nama. Paris Collins, James Egan and Jacob Samuels will be called upon to keep the pressure on Cedartown quarterback Harrison Barnett and attempt to break up the timing of the Bulldogs’ offense.
Offensively, Braucht is hoping that some stability on the offensive line will pay off. In their first four games of the season, the Knights had four different starting lineups for their offense — in particular on the offensive line.
It wasn’t until the last two games that River Ridge put the same group in the trenches, and Braucht plans to start that same group again Friday night.
“Hopefully, prayerfully, we will have a better output as far as numbers go offensively,” he said. “Offensive play isn’t just the running back, quarterback, wide receivers. It’s also offensive line timing. When half of your offense changes every week, you are pretty much in a bind. Those are all growing pains of any program. I just didn’t expect it to be us this year.”
Braucht said the early changes were brought about by several things, including player discipline and injury. James Smith, a big part of the Knights’ offense in 2012, was projected to be a starter, but he has yet to take the field for the team this season.
Still, Braucht said that while his players aren’t where he would like them to be, they are moving in the right direction.
“The question is now, will we run out of time?” Braucht said. “We are getting better each week, but there might not be enough games for us to turn it around.”