On its first winning streak since 2017, River Ridge will face a challenge few teams have been able to solve.
The Knights (2-3, 1-2 Region 6AAAAAA) will travel to eighth-ranked Dalton (4-1, 2-1) on Friday, tasked with slowing down the state’s leading rusher, Jahmyr Gibbs.
River Ridge gave up a long touchdown run to Chamblee on its first offensive snap last week, but it settled in after that and did not allow another point in a 40-7 win. A similar effort will be needed to contain Gibbs, who has rushed for more than 1,300 yards this season, averaging 272 yards per game.
River Ridge is not without offensive weapons of its own, though.
Amehre Morrison leads Cherokee County in rushing with 576 yards and is third in the county with 276 receiving yards. River Ridge coach Mike Collins has found different ways to get Morrison touches this year, and the threat of the sophomore running back has opened up opportunities for senior quarterback Chase Begin to find other players as well.
Andrew Binhgam has emerged as River Ridge's leading wide receiver, with 14 receptions for 172 yards, while freshman tight end Jackson Head has shown promise with 13 receptions for 136 yards.
When the Knights’ offense has had success, they have been able to spread the ball around to multiple players. Last week, Begin completed passes to seven different receivers for a total of 225 yards, and he scored twice on the ground himself. Freshman Daniel Fichtner continued to get reps behind Begin and made the most of it by rushing for his third touchdown of year.
River Ridge's ability to contain Gibbs will likely be the deciding factor in Friday's game. The effort should be led by junior linebacker Scotty Rutherford who is in the top 10 of tacklers in Cherokee County, with a team-high 33.
Dalton will likely be without starting quarterback Landon Allen, instead turning to the speedy Ashton Blackwell behind center.
The edge of the River Ridge defense will need to be ready and senior defensive end Kofi Reeves-Miller, who is tied with junior Aidan Bruton for the team lead in sacks with two each, should play a key role is the Knights’ attempt to slow down the Dalton running game.
A win for River Ridge would shake things up in the region. Sequoyah and Creekview play one another Friday, and the battle for the fourth and final playoff spot in the region will likely come down to the three teams, along with Sprayberry.