New Riverview coach hopes to turn around program’s fortunes

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Saturday, September 5, 2020 | 11:02 PM


A new era has begun for Riverview football.

Trevor George, a Carlynton grad and most recently an assistant at Blackhawk, takes over the Raiders program. He hopes to bring a wide-open philosophy to the offense and a new explosiveness to the defense.

So far, the new start seems to be a hit.

“When we got back on the field (in early July), it didn’t matter what the season looked like, we had the same attitude and were ready to work to be the best we can be,” junior running back and linebacker Dean Cecere said.

“We have a diverse offense that will be good because we have a lot of good skill players. I think we will be able to do a lot out of the new offense. There is an energy with the defense that we can make plays. There’s going to be a lot to come out from this new team.”

The new team, as Cecere describes it, will face a new start to the season.

The WPIAL revamped schedules this season in response to the coronavirus pandemic. For Riverview, a Week Zero game against Shady Side Academy is gone, and the original opener against Chartiers-Houston at Riverside Park on Sept. 4 became a scrimmage.

The new opener is Sept. 11. Eastern Conference rival Springdale, the original opponent for the regular season finale Oct. 30, now is Riverview’s first foe.

“We get to kick start the season with our rival, and the kids are pretty excited about it,” said George, who hopes to lead an improvement from last year’s 2-7 overall record and 1-5 mark in conference play.

“It’s going to be big for everybody. There is a lot of energy at practice because of it.

“Things had been in doubt for a while about whether we would have a season or not. The kids have been understanding with all the scenarios. It’s good for the kids to know what is ahead and that there is something to look forward to. We are just taking it one day at a time and are thankful for the day that we have. Each day is another day to get better, and the guys are taking advantage of each opportunity to be together on the field.”

Numbers are up for the Raiders, as a group of 40 led by a collection of eight seniors populate the preliminary roster.

Joining Cecere as returning offensive starters are seniors Ryan Aber (quarterback), Matt Frazier (lineman), James Williams (wide receiver), Jackson Corey (wide receiver); junior Sherwood Blackwell (lineman); and sophomore Liam McElligott (tight end).

Aber has recovered in the offseason from a shoulder injury. Sophomore Ben Hower and freshman Rocco Cecere, George said, are in competition at quarterback.

“We are going to stretch the field and get our athletes the ball in space in the pass game,” George said.

“The run game will be multiple, with an emphasis on putting run and pass defenders in a conflict read game and gaining leverage on numbers in the box.”

The defense is taking shape, George said, with Cecere, Blackwell (defensive tackle), Williams (cornerback) and Corey (cornerback); senior Mike Lewis (linebacker); junior Anthony Mazur (linebacker); and sophomores Rich Calabrese (linebacker) and Peyton Aitken (defensive end).

Mazur and Cecere led the defensive returnees in tackles with 39 and 36, respectively, while Williams and Cecere each returned an interception for a touchdown.

“If we play fast, physical and assignment sound, our defense will be successful,” George said.

George said he understands the conference again will be a challenge. Jeannette (Sept. 18) and defending WPIAL Class A champion Clairton (Sept. 25) follow Springdale on the schedule. The Bears topped the Jayhawks for last year’s conference title, and Greensburg Central Catholic also qualified for the playoffs.

“When I watched film from last year, I could see there was a lot of talent in place,” George said. “The younger kids last year got experience and learned a lot. The talent really fits our offensive and defensive systems.”

“I am big at fitting the scheme around what you have. There is good competition at every position, and the kids welcome that. The other coaches and I got really excited about the things we can do on both sides of the ball.”

Schedule

Coach: Trevor George

2019 record: 2-7, 1-5 in Class A Eastern Conference

All-time record: 259-238-11

Date, Opponent, Time

9.11, at Springdale*, 7

9.19, Jeannette*, Noon

9.25, at Clairton*, 7

10.2, at Imani Christian*, 7

10.9, Greensburg C.C.*, 7

10.16, at Leechburg*, 7

10.23, Bishop Canevin*, 7

*Class A Eastern Conference game

Statistical leaders

Passing: Ryan Aber

10-40, 123 yards

Receiving: James Williams

4-67 yards

Rushing: Zack Hanlon*

121-487 yards, 5 TDs

*Graduated

Fast facts

• The Raiders offense hopes to see an increase in productivity after averaging 142.2 yards of total offense per game last season.

• George spent the 2018 season as the wide receivers coach at Carolina Forest High School in Myrtle Beach, S.C. The Panthers went 8-2 and made the second round of the state playoffs.

• The Raiders last qualified for the WPIAL Class A playoffs in 2016. They fell to Rochester in the first round.

• Cecare led all returning rushers with 70 carries for 288 yards and a touchdown last year.

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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