EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – In 2022, Riverside saw its season come to an end in heartbreaking fashion.

Riverside fell to Big Spring, 28-25, in the UIL Class 4A Bi-District round last year. Riverside was on the wrong end of a Hail Mary touchdown pass in the last moments of the game and were knocked out of the playoffs way earlier than they liked.

“Last year, Big Spring got us on a Hail Mary pass, so that stung so bad for a whole year,” Riverside football head coach Gary Recoder said. “That set the tone for our off season, so to win the way we did on Thursday was huge.”

“I mean, last year we missed out on the [area] round. Everyone kind of expected us to go and win bi-district and keep winning, but this year, to make it, it feels great,” Riverside senior running back Noah Ramirez said. “Everyone kind of doubted us and to be able to make it into this round, just us and Canutillo, we get to go out and represent our city and represent the 915.”

Last Thursday, Riverside played Big Spring again and avoided heartbreak again. Riverside grabbed a 49-20 win over Big Spring and punched its ticket to the area round.

Riverside is set to face off against Springtown in the area round. Riverside is familiar with Springtown as these two programs faced off in the 4A regional round back in 2021. Riverside fell to Springtown, 40-14.

“Our kids are pretty familiar with some of those kids they faced on a couple of years ago,” Recoder said. “Defensively, they’re an attacking defense and they’re a stat tackle defense and we know what we get in those guys.”

“It’s a great motivator to go out and try to beat them this time,” Ramirez said. “It’s kind of been a thought in my mind all season, and now that’s here. I’m ready to go.”

Riverside will aim for a different result this time around Springtown and to win its second area championship in the last three years.

Kickoff between Riverside and Springtown is on Thursday at 6:00 p.m. CST/5:00 p.m. MT at Astound Broadband Stadium in Midland, Texas. KTSM 9 Sports Director Colin Deaver will be on the road with the Rangers and will have coverage on KTSM 9 News at 6 and 10 p.m.