Albemarle knew it was facing a tough task in a loaded region Friday night against Riverbend, particularly in trying to solve the Bears’ defense that has been rock solid of late, allowing just six points in Riverbend’s last three games.
The Patriots fell 26-9, ending their season in the Region 5D quarterfinals.
Both teams started off slow with very little ball movement in the first quarter. From the get-go, you could tell the winner of the game was going to be who won in the trenches and that that both squads were trying to get their footing there.
The scoring got going early in the second quarter, when Albemarle kicked a 25-yard field goal and went up 3-0. Riverbend came out on the subsequent drive and punched in a 9-yard touchdown run courtesy of senior Aiden Fischer.
On the next drive, Albemarle went three and out, but faked the punt. Senior Tae’Veon Wilson ran for a first down and was completely free down the sideline, but the play was blown dead by an inadvertent whistle. The whistle likely stopped Albemarle from putting up six more on the scoreboard, and arguably changed the course of the game.
At halftime, the score was 7-3 Riverbend, and that was as close as the score would get.
The Bears came out of the locker room on fire. Along with handing the ball off to Aidan Fischer, Riverbend started getting wide receiver Devin Washington in the mix in their passing game.
“We started getting the ball to Devin Washington, and he was a spark for us,” said Riverbend head coach Nathan Yates. “We were making good plays and getting the ball down the field; it really opened up our run game. We were utilizing the kids we had and they did great, they made great plays.”
Washington led the Bears in receiving yards with 114, and had a passing touchdown on a “Philly Special” type trick play. The running game also became more effective for Riverbend in the second half with Aiden Fischer finishing the game with 89 scrimmage yards and 2 touchdowns.
Unfortunately for Albemarle, starting quarterback Amaje Parker left the game early in the 3rd quarter with an injury. Consequently, Jake King took over as quarterback for the Patriots. However, the Bears controlled time of possession very well and King didn’t have virtually any opportunity to bring the Patriots back in the game.
Although Albemarle lost, coach Brandon Isaiah pointed to the contributions of the Patriots’ impressive senior class led by Eb McCarthy, King, Malik Washington, Dalton Tate and Jacob Terry who have all played a critical role for the Patriots.
“They have been more of a foundation for this program, it took a lot of months together, we grew together, made it through a pandemic together, and watched them this year come into their own,” said Isaiah. “Obviously, we felt like we could’ve done more than what we did on the back end of the season, but at the end of the day, I just feel extremely lucky to have been able to coach these boys.”
The Patriots end their season 8-3; the best record in the Isaiah era and Albemarle looks primed to come back next year with Parker, Isaiah Grevious and Noah Grevious leading a slew of key returners.