Riverview hopes to build from experience
Riverview's hope for the future might lie in last year's injury-plagued season.
That team was forced to insert many inexperienced players into the lineup.
“Last year's team was a young team,” coach Todd Massack said. “We're looking for that experience they got last year to pay off for us this year,”
That experience will be felt the most in a traditionally run-heavy Class A, particularly on the offensive line.
“We're going to be a typical Riverview football team,” Massack said. “Very hard-nosed.”
Brandon Peluso, an all-conference lineman, is the only starter who was lost to graduation. Returning to the unit are seniors Joe Brown, Jake Paradise, Chris Jarrett and Yianni Tsambis.
Riverview lost skill players Tim and Greg Wagner, as well as Vinny Piccolino to graduation.
All were key factors in the running and passing game.
Junior Raymar McCombs will pick up carries, and Keir Barber and Dillon Provenzo will split time at fullback.
Junior quarterback Tyler Nigro returns under center, and the Raiders have added Zach Hamus, a 6-foot-2 receiver who transferred from a school in Florida.
Hamus has impressed the coaching staff with his ability to throw the ball during seven-on-seven scrimmages, but his value most likely will be in catching passes.
He also will see time in the defensive backfield.
“He's probably at safety or corner,” Massack said. “Our safeties need to know how to play corner, as well.”
So far this preseason, Massack likes what he has seen.
“We've had a good offseason. We've had a good summer. Attendance at our workouts has been very good,” Massack said. “They've been working hard. I've been pleased with things. What that means for wins and losses, I don't know.”
Massack has added 50 years of coaching experience to his staff with the addition of longtime Springdale coach Chuck Wagner. Wagner retired in 2011 but decided to return as a volunteer consultant at the school where he began his prep coaching career in 1958.
“He has a great relationship with the kids. The kids love him. He's a legend,” Massack said. “He's a great guy, and the kids recognize that right away. We're excited. He was my high school coach, and my grandfather was his coach.”
Wagner coached at Oakmont High School for 10 seasons and remained for another 15 after Oakmont and Verona merged to form Riverview.
It's been three years since Riverview has enjoyed a winning season — it finished 6-4 in 2010 and missed the playoffs — and it's been six years since the Raiders made the playoffs. Last season, they were 2-7.
“We kind of use that as motivation. We don't dwell on the past,” Massack said. “We don't dwell on last year. We do use it as motivation.”