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Riverview football is undefeated despite offensive challenges

The Rams have a big test in Venice High this week.

Rams senior quarterback Will Evans scrambles after being pressured by the Southeast defense.
Rams senior quarterback Will Evans scrambles after being pressured by the Southeast defense.
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At first glance, it appears likely to be a baseball score. 

In reality, it was a hard-fought game on the gridiron. 

The Riverview High football team (2-0) defeated rival Southeast High (0-1) 7-5 at home Sept. 18. It was the second week in a row the Rams held their opponent to a touchdown or less, and the second week in a row the offense struggled, according to Coach Josh Smithers. 

That sentiment comes despite the Rams winning their season-opening game 40-7 against East Lake High. In that game, the Rams held East Lake to nine rushing yards on 21 carries (146 total yards). The Eagles' inability to move the football set up the Rams with short fields and easy points. Against Southeast, the Rams' defense again stymied the opposing offense: starting Southeast quarterback Maleek Huggins completed two passes before being replaced in the second half. 

Points were harder to find. After a 73-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Will Evans to junior wide receiver Jaron Glover on the team's first offensive play, the Rams never found a rhythm. 

"We're pretty good on defense," Smithers said. "We're not real good on offense or special teams right now. But it's a long season. We have to make sure we're getting better every week." 

Growing pains are to be expected. During the offseason, Riverview lost its offensive coordinator, Jared Clark, who became the coach at Cardinal Mooney. The Rams replaced him with Todd Haley, the former coach of the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs. Smithers said it will take time for Haley's adjustments to take hold. 

"We used to spread the field, now we bring formations in a little tighter, things like that," Smithers said. "He's got a wealth of knowledge and experience. The kids bought into what he wants to do right away. If we can figure out how to protect a little longer, I think we have a chance to be a potent offense." 

That "if" remains a question. Evans and junior quarterback Ryan Browne, who split time under center, were under frequent duress against Southeast. The duo was sacked five times and pressured into two interceptions. When the Rams did manage to move the ball, getting it to weapons like senior running back Michael Hayes Jr. in space, their efforts were for naught. Riverview missed three field goals, another thing that Smithers knows must be rectified in future games. 

But records don't lie, and the Rams will take theirs. They now head undefeated into their next game, a matchup with rival and local juggernaut Venice High. The Indians are 2-1, with their lone loss coming against IMG Academy, MaxPrep's top-ranked team in the nation. Riverview beat Venice 24-21 last season. They'll need a strong effort — on both sides of the ball — to repeat the feat. 

The defense should be up to the task. While the Rams did not force any turnovers against Southeast, usually a Riverview signature, they did cause the Seminoles to go 0-for-5 on third-down conversions and generated as much pressure on their quarterbacks as Southeast did on theirs. It will be up to the Rams offense to match that effort and get another victory. 



Ryan Kohn

Ryan Kohn is the sports editor for Sarasota and East County and a Missouri School of Journalism graduate. He was born and raised in Olney, Maryland. His biggest inspirations are Wright Thompson and Alex Ovechkin. His strongest belief is that mint chip ice cream is unbeatable.

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