Riverside enters second year of rebuilding phase

| Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, 8:55 p.m.

Riverside took its lumps last year during a 1-8 season, but coach Tom Liberty expected as much. As the team gears up for 2013, he thinks there's still a lot of room for growth.

“Last year we were in a rebuilding phase,” Liberty said. “This year, we're kind of in the same thing. It's been like a two-year thing here.”

The coach said the offensive line in particular is a question mark and is going to require time to grow. The defense could stand to improve, too, after giving up 40 or more points in seven of nine games last season.

But the challenge is part of what keeps the veteran coach in the game.

“I'm a coach in my 50s for one reason,” Liberty said. “I still love the game. I love football more than just the X's and O's. Football, I think, is a game of life. There's just a whole lot of things that give you tools to enter into life.”

With that in mind, he's looking forward to the season regardless of the growing pains it might bring.

He has a lot of faith in the skill positions, including tailbacks Aaron and Matt Tedys, among others, in the backfield.

“We have some athletes out there, some athletes that I think will be really, really good,” he said.

And if those players can help stabilize the Panthers this season, Liberty is confident future seasons can be bright.

He said the incoming freshmen were part of an undefeated middle school team, and having them around could be a big boost. Though some might not be ready to face off against seniors physically, he thinks their mentality can infuse positive attitudes despite what might lay ahead in the short-term.

“When you have winners coming up who know how to win, went undefeated, that's a plus,” Liberty said.

So at least for now, Liberty and his team remain focused on improving.

“These kids, in the weight room, in things they've done, they've become a really close-knit bunch of guys,” Liberty said. “We're going to go out, put our best out on the field. We're going to play to the last tick of the clock, and whatever happens, happens.”

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