The Rams lost to Steinbrenner 24-20 on Nov. 15.
The Riverview High season is over, but long after the Rams’ 24-20 loss to Steinbrenner High on Nov. 15 is forgotten, head coach Josh Smithers will remember this team’s senior class.
Not only did they help the team reach the regional semifinals this year, but they were an integral part of reaching the state semifinals in 2018. More than any of that, though, Smithers wants them remembered as the people they are.
“We have a lot of hard-working and high-character kids,” Smithers said. “These seniors are selfless. They did everything asked of them, everything it took to be a successful program. We were moving guys around a lot. Some games a guy would start at (defensive) end and then next he would move to the middle, or not start at all because we wanted to give a different look. They were willing to do it all, and I think that helped them become as tight-knit as they are.
"They were involved in the school. They were fun guys to be around. We always want our kids to be remembered as good people, and I can say that these kids are."
Next year’s team will look a lot different. On offense, gone will be starting quarterback Sean White, starting running back Tray Hall and offensive lineman Nathan Langlais, among other impactful players. On defense, linebacker Jayden Cray and safeties Matt Garcia and Hal Bloom will depart, as will kicker Dorian Hall, who came within a razor’s edge of nailing a 57-yard field goal — not a typo — at the end of the Steinbrenner game, perhaps the most impressive missed kick I have ever seen at any level.
The future remains bright, though, in the form of the Hayes brothers, junior running back/wideout/quarterback Michael and sophomore wide receiver Omari. The Steinbrenner game was highlighted by an electric 80-yard reverse pass from Michael to Omari for a touchdown. As long as those two weapons are around, the Rams will remain dangerous. Plus, junior cornerback Sambo Ung and sophomore cornerback James Simmons make for one of the finest secondary pairings in the state.
The loss to Steinbrenner was marred by penalties. Riverview racked up 22 for 183 yards, while Steinbrenner had 10 for 117. The Rams also had three potential turnovers get reversed: An Ung interception was called out of bounds (though he would later get one that counted), a sliding Simmons interception was ruled incomplete and a fumble recovery by Matt Garcia was canceled by a clipping penalty that occurred before the recovery.
Smithers said the game was decided by the Rams’ mistakes, though he also gave credit to Steinbrenner for playing well, as he expected the Warriors to play. His competitive spirit hasn’t waned: Smithers said he woke up Saturday morning and wanted to play Steinbrenner again. But he, too, is focused on the future. Smithers said he and his staff were meeting this week to discuss plans for the future.
"We want to make another run at it," Smithers said.