It passed challenge No. 1, intercepting Lake Nona six times Nov. 8. Can it repeat the performance?
All year, Riverview High football's offense showed why it was so dangerous. A balanced attack left opponents unable to cover all the Rams' playmakers. They zigged when their opponents zagged.
Against Lake Nona High (7-4) in the first round of the 2019 Class 8A playoffs on Nov. 8, the Rams' defense did its best imitation of the offense.
The Rams (9-2) picked off Lake Nona quarterback six times. Junior cornerback Sambo Ung had three of them, two of which he returned for touchdowns. In all, the defense was responsible for 20 points in the team's 37-7 win. It was 37-0 in the first quarter before the Rams toned down their aggressive play.
“Green grass, daylight,” Ung said after the win. “That’s all I see. I was looking at [the quarterback]. Like, before the play, he gave me a little look, so I already know, ‘I’m [going to] jump this route.’”
The defense will need to do more of the same against Steinbrenner High (10-1), the Rams' next opponent, at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 15 at the Ram Bowl. Steinbrenner senior quarterback Hayden Carlson has thrown for 28 touchdowns against three interceptions. The Warriors have also rushed for 1,545 yards as a team, with junior Deon Silas leading the way with 928 yards (9.8 yards per carry) and 15 touchdowns.
Riverview is higher (No. 6) in the final Florida High School Athletic Association Class 8A rankings than Steinbrenner (No. 14), largely because of the Rams' strength of schedule. Riverview's opponents won 65.1% of their games, while Steinbrenner's opponents won 46.7% of theirs. Playing and beating teams like Venice High has not only given the Rams a higher seed — and thus home-field advantage — but also experience in tight, intense games.
If Riverview wins, it will play the winner of Dr. Phillips High vs. Osceola High.