The River Oaks Mustangs enter the 2018 Mississippi Association of Independent Schools (MAIS) prep football season with expectations to be competitive this year and avoid mistakes to be successful.
“I look for this to be a very competitive football team,” River Oaks coach Robert Hannah said. “We will play hard and work hard to be successful. We must stop big plays on defense and have fewer turnovers on offense to make this season a success.”
Last season, the Mustangs had five wins along with seven losses including a perfect 2-0 record in District 5-AA to capture the district championship.
After missing the playoffs for the first time since 2007 last season, River Oaks advanced to the MAIS Class AA playoffs where the Mustangs faced their District 5-AA rival the Prairie View Spartans, who River Oaks defeated 28-18 prior in the season.
Unfortunately for the Mustangs, it is a tough task to defeat a team twice in a season as the Spartans claimed a 28-20 victory in route to advancing to the Class AA semifinal round.
On offense, junior quarterback Drake Tannehill returns under center to lead a veteran Mustang offense that was very effective rushing the football last year.
In 2017, River Oaks rushed the ball 503 times for 2878-yards with 30 rushing touchdowns in 12 games which averages to a 239.8-yards rushing per game which help the Mustangs control the clock and the tempo of the game.
Last season, Tannehill rushed for 274-yards on 70 carries with 6 rushing touchdowns while completing 18-of-48 passes for 205 yards with 2 touchdowns and 6 interceptions through the air.
Joining Tannehill in the River Oaks’ offensive backfield will be senior running backs Cory Tindall and Tyler Avery. Tindall started a promising junior season by rushing for 457-yards on 36 carries which average to an impressive 12.7 yards per carry, but an injury sidelined Tindall in week five for the season.
When Tindall went down, Avery stepped up his game leading the Mustangs in rushing with 1,017-yards on 170 carries with 10 touchdowns.
The River Oaks receiving core returns all three receiver positions in the senior tight end John Ethan Hughes (6’1”, 225 pounds), senior wide receiver Bradley Black (5’9”, 155 pounds) and senior wide receiver Brandon Dorsey (6’1”, 175 pounds).
Black led all Mustang receivers with 10 catches for 130-yards (13 yards per catch average) with 1 receiving touchdown while Dorsey finished second on the team with 5 receptions for 52-yards (10.4-yards per catch average).
Up front on the Mustangs’ offensive line, the River Oaks return senior right offensive tackle Austin Allred (6’2”, 195 pounds) and junior left guard Samuel Alexander (5’11”, 230 pounds).
Joining Allred and Alexander on the River Oaks offensive line will be senior right guard Alec Keomalithong (5’10”, 265 pounds), junior center Kolby Gregory (6’3”, 195 pounds) and junior left tackle John David Roberson (5’7”, 170 pounds).
On defense, River Oaks will utilize a 3-4-4 defensive alignment to stop opposing offenses.
The Mustangs’ defense will be led up from by a junior defensive end Alexander, senior nose guard Keomalithong and senior defensive end Avery.
Senior linebacker Rico Gonzalez (6’2”, 220 pounds), returns to lead a will be counted on to anchor the River Oaks’ linebacker unit.
Gonzalez has led the Mustang defensive unit in total tackles for the past two seasons collecting 97 total tackles (71 solo tackles, 26 assists) with 4 tackles for loss, 1 interception and 1 fumble recovery in 2017 while recording 128 total tackles (103 solo tackles and 23 assists), 8 tackles for loss and 2 fumble recoveries in 2016.
Joining Gonzalez in the linebacker core will be senior Hughes, sophomore Ousman Amadou-Ide (5’11”, 185 pounds) and Sam Harrington (5’9”, 160 pounds).
Last season, Harrington recorded 36 total tackles (33 solo tackles, 3 assists) with 5 tackles for loss while Amadou-Ide had 26 total tackles (22 solo tackles, 4 assists) along with 1 tackle for loss.
The River Oaks defensive backfield is a veteran unit and will feature a trio of returning seniors in strong safety
Bradley Black, free safety Cody Tindall and cornerback Brandon Dorsey while sophomore strong safety Nick Parrino (6’0”, 160 pounds) will start after seeing some playing time in his freshman season.
Black led the team in interceptions with 2 last season to go along with 3 pass deflections while Dorsey led the team in pass deflection with 4 while collecting 1 fumble recovery.
On special teams, Parrinno will handle the kickoff, field goal and extra point kicking duties while sophomore Kael Skipper will be the Mustangs’ punter. Black will be the River Oaks holder in 2018. Last season, Parrinno was 3-for-4 on extra points kicks.
River Oaks will host the Union Christian Academy Lions to open their 2018 regular season Friday, August 17. River Oaks will take to the road for their next four playing dates with the Mustangs traveling to ERA on Friday, August 24 when the Mustangs host MAIS Class AAAA’s East Rankin Academy Patriots.
On Friday, August 31, the Mustangs will travel to Rayville to take on the Riverfield Academy Raiders in local a rivalry game between two proud MAIS football program.
River Oaks will close out their four-game road trip at Copiah Academy Colonels on Friday, September 8 and the St. Joseph Fighting Irish, who are the defending MAIS Class AA state champions, on Friday, September 14.
River Oaks will open a three-game home stretch on Friday, September 21 by hosting the Deer Creek Warriors. Deer Creek advanced to the MAIS Class A semifinal round last season where the lost to Trinity Episcopal Day School 48-28.
In week seven, the Porter’s Chapel Academy Eagles will come to Monroe to play the Mustangs on Friday, September 28. Porter’s Chapel is looking to build on last season’s 5-5 campaign which was the Eagle’s first non-losing season since 2011.
On Friday, October 5, River Oaks will close out its home schedule by hosting the Tri-County Academy Rebels, who lost in the 2017 MAIS Class AA state championship game to St. Joseph 44-14 to finish as the state runner-up.
Following a week 9 open date, River Oak will travel to Minden to play their lone district game against the
Glenbrook Apaches on October 19 in the regular season finale.
River Oaks’ fans can listen to all of the Mustangs’ football games on the radio on KMLB 105.7 FM and on the AM dial at 540 AM or online at www.kmlb.com.
RIVER OAKS MUSTANGS’ SIDEBAR
River Oaks Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator: Robert Hannah (33rd Season)
River Oaks Assistant Coaches: Lacraig Brown (Defensive Line), Stuart Hannah (Offensive Coordinator), Gary Poynter (Offensive Line), Kevin Cope (Receivers / Defensive Backs)
River Oaks Home Football Stadium: Robert Hanna Field at Woody Boyles’ Memorial Stadium (Natural Grass)
River Oaks Games will be broadcasted on
River Oaks Mustangs’ Past Five Seasons:
2017 Overall Record: 5-7 District Record 2-0 (District 5-AA Champions, Class AA Playoff Qualifier)
2016 Overall Record: 3-7 District Record: 2-2 (District 6-AA Third Place, Did not qualify for the Class AA playoffs)
2015 Overall Record: 4-6 District Record: 4-1 (District 6-AA Second Place, Regional Playoff Qualifier)
2014 Overall Record: 7-5 District Record: 2-1 (District 3-AA Second Place, Regional Playoff Qualifier)
2013 Overall Record: 5-6 District Record: 2-1 (District 3-AA Tri-Champions, Division IV State Runner-Up)
LISA State Championship Season(s): 1 – 1990
LISA State Runner-Up Season(s): 1 – 1974, 1989
MAIS State Championship Season(s): 2 – 2005, 2010
MAIS State Runner-Up Season(s): 1 – 2011
MAIS Playoff Seasons: (12 playoff appearances / 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017)