A last-minute fourth-down stand gave River Ridge one of the biggest wins in program history last week, and now with momentum on its side, it will set sights on another in-county opponent.
River Ridge (2-0) will host Etowah (0-1) on Friday, looking to make it two wins in a row over county opponents after the Knights beat Woodstock 22-17 last week.
Etowah, which fell at home to Creekview 14-13 in its season opener, will be coming off an unscheduled bye week following the cancellation of a game against Forsyth Central due to COVID-19 concerns.
River Ridgee’s offense has been potent, led by arguably the most explosive player in Cherokee County, junior running back Amehre Morrison. Morrison ran for 154 yards and two touchdowns against Woodstock, and through two games, is averaging 190 yards and three touchdowns per game.
“With a guy like Amehre, I think you manage him by just giving him the ball,” River Ridge coach Mike Collins said. “We try not to limit it, and we try to be as creative as we can to get him the ball in various ways. The best part about it, though, is he can open up some things for our other guys.”
The connection between River Ridge quarterback Carson Lathem and wide receiver Jackson Head looks like it could be one of the best in the area as well. Lathem found Head six times for 72 yards against Woodstock, and Head enters Week 3 with a county-high nine receptions for 159 yards.
Defensively, seniors Scotty Rutherford and Connor Gross lead the Knights with a team-high 18 tackles, while Hunter Deriso leads the team with six tackles for loss and three sacks.
Etowah was one play away from earning a win over Creekview in Week 1, and the Eagles will be looking to get new coach Matt Kemper his first win with the program.
Etowah used a quarterback rotation of Braden Bohannon and Will Curcio in Week 1, and the rotation will likely continue against River Ridge. The Eagles’ running game was the more potent weapon to start the season with Klivert Many finishing with a hard-fought 33 rushing yards and a touchdown against Creekview.
Luis Martinez showed explosive ability in the run game against Creekview, and it should be expected for receivers Remington Adams, Blake Bohannon and Brock Rechsteiner to get more touches as the season progresses.
“We just didn’t execute offensively against Creekview,” Kemper said. “At the same time, we were still in it at the end. We’re going to try to do things to play to the strengths of our kids and we’ve seen it now.”
Defensively, Etowah looked strong in all areas. The Eagles held Creekview’s passing offense in check (22 yards), and they made it no easier against the run.
Linebackers Lane Cantrell and Austin Skinner looked like the all-county performers from a season ago, while defensive lineman Jared Weitkamp was effective against the run and pass. Defensive back Carlos Thornton recorded an interception and will likely be matched up against Head on Friday.
Whether or not the Eagles’ defense can contain Morrison will likely be the difference in the game.