Emanuel stars once again as Ridge Point upends Bush, secures share of 20-6A title
ROSENBERG—Ridge Point coach Rick LaFavers isn't into sharing.
Sure, his Panthers clinched a share of the District 20-6A title with Saturday's 49-21 win over Bush at Traylor Stadium. But LaFavers wasn't too keen on recognizing that feat with Travis looming in next week's regular season finale.
Ridge Point is 6-0 in 20-6A. Travis is 5-1. If the Tigers beat the Panthers next week, they'll take 20-6A's No. 1 seed in Class 6A Division I, even though Ridge Point and Travis would then share the district championship by finishing with identical 6-1 records.
"I'm not into sharing or the co-champs stuff," LaFavers said. "The bottom line is if we lose next week, they're the No. 1 seed. We have to clean a lot of stuff up. This was definitely an ugly win, and we've still got to take care of business."
While LaFavers told his players after the game he was proud of their effort, he also warned that the performance would not cut it in the playoffs.
The Panthers turned the ball over three times, all fumbles, and sometimes looked lethargic in what was a meaningful game. Bush could have forced a three-way tie for first place in 20-6A with a win.
"A mark of this team has been taking care of the ball," LaFavers said. "I think we're plus-seven or plus-nine in the turnover ratio, and we lost two today. We've been really good at, when we do give it up, not allowing points, and we allowed short fields and gave up a touchdown that gave them some life.
"The scoreboard might say we blew them out, but we played sloppy, and we've got to clean that up if we're going to be successful next week and on into the playoffs."
The good news for LaFavers is he has senior quarterback Bert Emanuel Jr. on his team. The spectacular 6-foot-3 dual threat covers up a lot of mistakes, and he proved as much Saturday.
For the third time this season, Emanuel accounted for five touchdowns in a game as he threw for four and rushed for one. But it was the first time this season that he threw for 200 yards and rushed for 100.
Emanuel completed 7 of 13 passes for 250 yards and rushed 12 times for 117 yards.
.@RPHS_FB strikes 16 seconds in. @BertEmanuel3 calmly collects his own fumble and takes it 67 yards untouched for a… https://t.co/SuSDdtyCER— Dennis Silva II (@Dennis Silva II) 1635617209.0
"They played man (defense) most of the time," Emanuel said. "So, all that work this summer with my receivers, knowing they can get off their man and get off of press, helped a lot and turned into big plays."
Emanuel said offensive coordinator Stephen Goodwin gives him the green light.
"I feel really comfortable," said Emanuel, who has thrown 23 touchdowns with no interceptions and rushed for nine touchdowns. "I have a lot more confidence in myself, the playbook, the coaches. I just think we can do so much as an offense. Everybody is clicking. All our receivers, to our tight end Carter (Groen), who's starting to make big plays. Our fullback Ryan (Phillips). All our running backs. Everyone is out there ballin'."
Of his star signal-caller, LaFavers said, "If I'm a college coach, I'm offering him yesterday."
"Between his size and speed, he is a game-changer, and then his mental fortitude and toughness … you want him on your team," LaFavers said. "He continues week in and week out to perform under pressure, make a play when you need it, and make those around him better. He's got that moxie."
While Emanuel may be the headliner, he is not the only star. The Panthers boast a slew of gifted playmakers, including junior running back Ezell Jolly (18 carries, 80 yards, two TDs), and senior receivers Marvin Session (four catches, 136 yards, two TDs) and Wilson Batiste (one catch, 24 yards).
LaFavers and his staff chart "explosive" offensive plays every week, defined as a pass that gains 16 or more yards and a run that gains 12 or more yards. Against Bush, Ridge Point, which had 485 total yards, had 12 explosives.
"We realize as you get deeper into the playoffs, the explosiveness might not be there, but that's something we've been very good at," LaFavers said. "We've just got to continue to finish drives and get into the red zone and get points, and not just rely on those explosives."
>> GETTING STOPS: Ridge Point held Bush to 192 total yards of offense and sacked senior quarterback Tyler Hilder three times. Linebacker Calvin Alexander, defensive back Walker Aycock, defensive lineman Kameron Richardson and linebacker Mason Hall ignited a furious pass rush. "We're all getting tight as the season progresses and we're getting things done," said Aycock, who had the team's lone takeaway with an interception in the second half. "We're all boys. It helps to have the camaraderie we have."
>> CORMIER SHINES: Less than 24 hours after verbally committing to continue his football career at Weber State, Bush senior running back Adrian Cormier fought valiantly to keep the Broncos in Saturday's game. Cormier finished with 146 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries.
.@adriancormier3 set that score up with this gritty 13-yard run. Tough runner. @BUSHHS_FOOTBALL https://t.co/w8NqeaUT2N— Dennis Silva II (@Dennis Silva II) 1635624050.0
>> BRONCOS ON THE BRINK: Bush (4-5, 4-2 20-6A) lost its second straight game after starting district play with a four-game win streak. Whether or not the Broncos make the playoffs will come down to the final week of the season. Bush plays Clements next Saturday in what could be a win-or-go-home game.
(To listen to the complete audio broadcast of the Ridge Point-Bush game, click here).