Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Sarasota high school football preview: Riverview High

Whoever wins the quarterback battle will benefit from several offensive weapons.

Josh Smithers is entering his fifth season as Riverview's head Coach.
Josh Smithers is entering his fifth season as Riverview's head Coach.
  • Sarasota
  • Sports
  • Share

After another deep playoff run in 2020, the Riverview High football team have to replace important contributors at key positions in 2021. 

That would spell trouble for many programs. With the Rams' talent, however, it's less of a concern, and Coach Josh Smithers is eager to see how that talent translates to the field. 

"We have had a real good offseason," Smithers said. "We feel like our kids have done a lot of developing over the summer. I'm excited. Our first five games are tough. We'll find out pretty quick what we're all about." 

The most interesting aspect of the Rams might be their quarterback situation, which is far from settled.  Smithers said the team has four quarterbacks competing for the position.

Joe Borchers, a junior, transferred to the Rams from IMG Academy. Borchers started the Rams' spring game, a 39-0 win against South Fort Myers on May 27, and Smithers said if the season started at the beginning of regular-season practice sessions, Borchers would be under center. 

But, there are weeks to go before the season opener against Seminole High on Aug. 27, and three others remain in contention.

Will Carter, a junior, was the program's 2020 starter on a junior varsity team that finished 5-0. Smithers said Carter might be the fastest player in the Rams program, regardless of position.

Then there is Jackson Dawson, a senior and Jeremiah Dawson, a sophomore. The Dawsons are brothers who moved to Sarasota from Warsaw, Indiana, during the offseason. Smithers said he knows the least about these two since they're so new to the program, but he's going to give them a fair shot. Smithers also said he would consider using two quarterbacks if he thought that was best for the team, especially if they bring different skills. 

Whoever wins the job, the quarterback will have plenty of weapons to use within the offense, starting with senior wide receiver Jaron Glover, who committed to Michigan State University in June. Glover had 27 catches for 468 yards and six touchdowns in 2020 and is primed to exceed those numbers in 2021. He'll be joined on the outside by sophomore Charles Lester, who will play wide receiver in 2021 while continuing to hone his craft at defensive back. Lester and Smithers took a visit to the University of Alabama this offseason.

Senior Johnell Williams will line up in the slot while junior Luke Petitta takes the tight end role. 

Senior Jay'den Birch will be Riverview's starting running back in 2021.
Senior Jay'den Birch will be Riverview's starting running back in 2021.

The Rams will also lean on senior running back Jay'den Birch, who takes over from stalwart Michael Hayes Jr. Birch ran for 230 yards on 50 carries (4.6 yards per carry) off the bench in 2020. Smithers said he has confidence that Birch can handle a full workload.

On defense, the Rams will return second-leading tackler Tyre Smith (62 tackles), a senior linebacker, as well as senior linebackers Brady and Bo Bloom (45 and 40 tackles). Smithers said senior Sean Buchanan will take the fourth linebacker spot. Lester will be the leader in the secondary, which loses two key members in the now-graduated Sambo Ung Jr., and James Simmons, who transferred to Palmetto High for his senior season. 

Though the Rams have a difficult schedule, including road games against Venice High, Seminole High and Lake Gibson High, their players are confident the 2021 season can be special. 

"Man, the stars are the limit for us," Birch said. "We have so much talent. We just have to make sure we lock in and do our jobs and everything's going to be great."



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.

Latest News