They’re still pals, the private school with five straight playoff appearances and the big public school trying to establish a strong gridiron tradition.
But not for the Battle of Raider Drive Friday at Riverwood’s Hoskyn Stadium, which the Golden Bears (2-0) also use for home games.
“It’s fun for the city of Sandy Springs,” Riverwood coach Robert Ingram said. “[Holy Innocents’ coach] Ryan Livezey and those guys over there are just the nicest guys, the most professional guys I’ve ever been around.”
Then he added, “I just want to beat the hell out of them.”
There’s your rivalry.
“It’s the same for the players,” Ingram said. “The guys that they’re going to play against are their neighbors, and they love them to death, but one night a week, they just hate their guts. It’s fun. It’s got to be fun sitting up in the bleachers, watching.”
The Golden Bears won 17-7 last season for their third straight victory in the series. With both teams running the run-heavy triple-option offense, the games have come down to gritty defensive battles.
The Raiders (1-0) won their final three games last season to finish 5-5 for their best mark since 2005, the year before the varsity program at Holy Innocents’ began under Livezey.
He’s taken notice of his colleague’s work at Riverwood, which hasn’t reached the playoffs since 2001 and just moved from Class AAA to AAAAA.
“One of the biggest things that Coach Ingram over there has done is the toughness aspect from the team,” Livezey said. “He pushes the guys over there hard, and they’re responding. I think you’re starting to see their players play with a toughness that they didn’t have before.”
Riverwood looked sharp in its opening 48-0 win over Cambridge Friday, with Grant Drakeford putting on a clinic of versatility with a passing touchdown, rushing touchdowns of 43 and 57 yards, and a 43-yard punt return for a score.
Holy Innocents’ proved in its opener it wouldn’t be swayed by facing a much larger Class AAAAA school. The Golden Bears, led by running backs Owen Penn and Clay Pfohl, overcame a sluggish first half against Lakeside of DeKalb County to rally for a 20-14 win Aug. 17.
“The difference in that game was how we played in the second half,” Livezey said. “We can’t afford to [struggle early] in the future and expect to win many games.”
Holy Innocents' followed up with a 10-9 win over Wesleyan Friday to improve to 2-0 for the season.