Riverview will rely on versatility in hopes of successful season
Tuesday, August 20, 2019 | 9:51 AM
As his team went through summer workouts, Riverview coach Todd Massack said he made sure to remind his players they need to learn and be comfortable at multiple positions.
It’s been that way the past couple of seasons, he said, with the Raiders’ limited roster and the specter of injuries always looming.
“There are a number of players who will have more than one jersey,” said Massack, who foresees a roster numbering between 25 and 30.
“Someone like (senior running back, offensive lineman and linebacker) Zach (Hanlon) will have his No. 78, and we also have No. 36 on him. It’s single-A football, and our goal is to put the best 11 on the field to give us the best chance to win. Our kids understand that and have been good about that. They want to do whatever they can to be a winning team.”
Massack said he likes where the numbers are as the team prepares for its season opener Aug. 31 against Greensburg Central Catholic.
Hanlon, who battled through a back injury that affected him most of last season, said he is ready to get the team back to the WPIAL Class A playoffs from the Eastern Conference.
“We’re all pretty excited for the season,” Hanlon said. “Every day is a grind, but we know how important every opportunity is to get in the weight room or get on the field. We’re working to get better every day.”
Hanlon is one of seven members of a senior class Massack said has shown strong leadership through workouts.
“We put Zach in the backfield a little bit towards the end of year, and we saw some good things,” Massack said. “But he always has that ability to move up as an offensive lineman.”
While there are several open spots on both sides of the ball because of graduation, Massack said the offensive and defensive lines are experienced.
Senior Forrest Steele earned all-conference honorable mention recognition along the offensive line, and fellow senior Cam Jackson picked up second-team honors for his work on the defensive line.
Steele (tackle), Jackson (center) and senior Jake Rider (guard) are returning starters on the offensive line. Sophomore Anthony Mazur stepped into one of the line spots last year, and he also could see time at fullback.
“We worked with him a lot at fullback this summer, but we always tell him that we have that lineman jersey for him, too,” Massack said.
Junior Matt Fraizer returns with starting experience along the offensive line, and classmate Dominic Armenti, Massack said, will be in the line mix.
Junior Ryan Aber is the front-runner at quarterback, Massack said.
“Ryan has a good work ethic. He’s a tough kid,” Massack said. “He played a little bit of quarterback last year, but he also lined up at fullback and linebacker. He has a strong arm. He’s still learning the position and what it takes to be that person.”
Top targets for Aber include juniors Jackson Corey and James Williams.
Senior Justyn Slebrich (H-back) and sophomore Dean Cecere (tailback) will be in the backfield.
Massack said some of the same players will stay on the field defensively. Mazur will join Hanlon at inside linebacker. Rider could split time between defensive end and linebacker. Senior Ike Murphy and junior Michael Lewis are expected to man the outside linebacker spots, and Slebrich and Cecere will help form the core of the secondary.
“We have guys with experience and others coming in looking to get that experience,” Massack said. “That’s what makes it fun and challenging, getting everyone on the same page, clicking on offense and flying to the ball on defense.”
Riverview, 2-7 overall and 1-5 in conference play last year, again will do battle with conference heavyweights Jeannette, Clairton and Imani Christian, as well as Alle-Kiski Valley rivals Springdale and Leechburg. After the opener against GCC and a nonconference game against Charleroi, the Raiders host Clairton on Sept. 13.
“We need to worry about what we can control,” Massack said. “We can control holding onto the football, blocking and wrapping up when we tackle. If we do those things right, we will be in football games.”
Riverview will host its annual night game Oct. 11 at 7 against Springdale. The boys and girls soccer teams will host their respective Dynamos counterparts in a doubleheader the night before.
“It’s a great rivalry, and to play them under the lights, it’s great for both teams, both schools and both communities,” Massack said. “It creates a lot of excitement. High school football is made for Friday nights.”
Coach: Todd Massack
2018 record: 2-7, 1-5
All-time record: 257-229-11
Date, Opponent, Time
8.31, Greensburg C.C.*, 12
9.6, at Charleroi, 7
9.13, at Clairton*, 7
9.21, Leechburg*, 12
9.28, Imani Christian*, 12
10.4, at Jefferson-Morgan, 7
10.11, Springdale*, 7
10.18, at Jeannette*, 7
10.25, at Chartiers-Houston, 7
*Class A Eastern Conference game
Passing: Jarred Massack*
Receiving: Ben Blacksmith*
Rushing: Devon Binz*
No., Name, Pos., Ht./Wt., Cl.
3, James Williams, WR/DB, 5-10/155, Jr.
6, Jackson Corey, WR/DB, 5-9/150, Jr.
7, Isaac Murphy, WR/DB, 5-7/140, Sr.
9, Mike Lewis, WR/LB, 5-11/200, Jr.
10, Ryan Aber, QB/DB, 5-11/190, Jr.
11, Justyn Slebrich, RB/QB/DB, 6-0/160, Sr.
12, Justin Hart Brown, WR/DB, 6-0/150, So.
14, Jordan Escalera, WR/DB, 5-9/150, So.
15, Ben Hower, QB/DB, 6-1/145, Fr.
17, Jordan Hart Brown, WR/DB, 5-10/135, So.
18, Sensei Godfrey, RB/WR/LB, 6-2/215, Sr.
19, Enzo Lio, WR/DB, 5-8/150, Fr.
21, Kevin Tomlinson, WR/DB, 5-10/140, Fr.
22, Dean Cecere, RB/DB, 6-0/175, So.
24, Peyton Aitken, RB/LB, 6-2/185, Fr.
32, Anthony Mazur, FB/LB, 5-11/170, So.
36, Zach Hanlon, RB/LB, 6-1/215, Sr.
44, Richard Calabrese, RB/LB, 5-11/170, Fr.
52, Dominic Armenti, OL/DL, 5-8/225, Jr.
56, Forrest Steele, OL/DL, 6-0/215, Sr.
58, Liam McElligott, OL/FB/LB, 6-4/180, Fr.
66, Joey Inzinga, OL/DL, 5-9/180, Fr.
70, Matt Frazier, OL/DL, 6-4/250, Jr.
71, Sherwood Blackwell, OL/DL, 5-11/320, So.
73, David Reynolds, OL/LB, 5-6/165, Fr.
75, Cameron Jackson, OL/DL, 6-0/210, Sr.
77, Jake Rider, OL/DL, 6-0/215, Sr.
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .
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