Forge vs. Bend. Playoff football. This isn’t the first time this story has been heard. Two years ago, the Riverbend Bears gained their first postseason win in program history. It occurred at Eagle Stadium. In the first round. Now after all this time, Forge finally has a shot to avenge that heartbreaker of 2015.
Forge is the favorite, no one is denying that. The Eagles are 10-0, they’re the top seed in the region and they’ve outscored their opponents a combined 373 to 92. Riverbend to the contrary has a record of 4-7, yet in the regular season Forge came away with an uncharacteristically close 14-6 victory. This was a common theme for the Bears as they played several of the state’s top teams extremely close during their regular season.
Riverbend is not your typical 4-7 team, they’re very gritty and physical, and while on paper, Forge is undeniably the superior team, the Eagles must be on their toes if they expect to come away with a victory.
Players to Watch for Riverbend:
Madden Lowe #10: The undersized Sophomore Quarterback has thrown for nearly 1500 yards and 12 tds on the season. Cornerbacks Ian Ector (12) and Johnnie Walker (12) both played strongly against the Bears’ receivers the first time around forcing Lowe into some tough spots. Expect more of the same come Friday night.
Bryan Melara #25: The Senior running back is an absolute bruiser and ran for 140 yards on 24 carries in the September matchup. Melara is maybe the most dangerous player on the Bears’ offense. It often takes multiple defenders to bring down the 205 pound back. Linebackers Liam and Max Kauthen (12, 10), Oliejah Louissaint (11) and Nigel Reddick (12) will be busy Friday night without a doubt. Shutting him down will be difficult but containing him may be the key to guaranteeing a win.
Ben Skinner #23: The Linebacker/Safety hybrid is the catalyst for the Bears D. He’s a talented Junior who will likely be playing Division 1 football down the line. Physical and extremely versatile Skinner will be relied on heavily by Riverbend to try and stop the seemingly endless number of weapons the Eagles can put on the field.