Junior Dean Cecere, Riverview learn from challenging early season slate

Saturday, October 10, 2020 | 11:01 AM

In Riverview’s Eastern Conference football game against Imani Christian on Oct. 2 at Graham Field in Wilkinsburg, Dean Cecere broke free on runs several times and turned in career-best marks on the stat sheet.

The Raiders junior running back delivered 208 yards and his first three touchdowns of the season on 17 carries. He added three catches out of the backfield for 28 yards and returned three kicks for 60 yards, giving him 296 yards of total offense.

“I was happy with the way I ran, but I know there is always more work to be done and more ways I can improve,” Cecere said.

As much as he saw good things with his individual performances against the Saints, he said he wished it would’ve come in a team victory. Riverview scored a season-high in points, but Imani came away with a 48-25 victory.

“We needed to move the ball, and we were able to do that,” he said. “We need to focus on continuing to get better as a team and build confidence, and we took a step toward those (against Imani).”

For Cecere and his teammates on a young Riverview team, the goal is to see improvement from each drill or play in practice and build on positive moments in games.

Riverview, which was 0-4 overall and in conference play heading into last Friday’s matchup with Greensburg Central Catholic under the lights at Riverside Park, ran a gauntlet in the early going against Springdale, Jeannette and Clairton who were a combined 10-1 after four weeks of play.

Rival Springdale originally was the regular-season finale, but the game was moved to the opener when the WPIAL restructured the fall football schedules in early August.

“We knew we were going to play Jeannette and Clairton, but we didn’t expect to be playing our rivals in the first game,” said Cecere, who put on 25 pounds in the offseason through good nutrition, weight training and conditioning workouts.

“It was a tough start with those three good teams, but we were able to take some things from each game and learn from them.”

Cecere now has season totals of 322 yards rushing on 45 carries and seven catches for 87 yards.

“Dean has shown that increased power and speed he developed from all of the hard work in the offseason,” first-year Riverview coach Trevor George said.

“One of the things that is sometimes overlooked with Dean is his catching ability. We try to get him four or five targets a game. He has great hands, and he can make people miss in open space.”

Cecere came into the season off a sophomore campaign which saw him collect 288 yards and a touchdown on 70 carries as he shared duties in the backfield with the graduated Zack Hanlon.

Cecere also ended 2019 with 36 tackles, and he returned an interception for a score.

“Our team is still getting used to each other,” he said. “With the pandemic, it was harder to bond over the summer. Everything was rushed. We’re still coming together as a team. We have talent, but we’re just working to put everything in the right spots. We’re starting to see some things click. That is a good sign.”

Cecere said the team is working as much for next season and for future seasons as it is for this season.

“The coaches really care about building up this program,” he said. “They are the real deal. The foundation is being set right now for what can come in the future for the team. We’re looking forward to these final couple of games and finishing as strong as we can, but we’re also looking down the road to what this team can be.”

Riverview concludes the regular season with a game Friday at Leechburg and a home contest Oct. 24 against Bishop Canevin at Riverside Park.

George said he appreciates Cecere’s leadership on and off the field and his desire to help build the program for success.

“Dean is a lead-by-example guy with his play and his work ethic, but he also is someone who can be a vocal leader, too,” George said. “He’s proven his commitment to making himself and the team better. He is one who can be an extension of the coaches with our expectations and our vision. I like what he can become, both now and in the future.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .


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