There’s no good way to put a positive spin on an 0-9 season, but with the track record Riverside football owns, the Frontiersmen are hoping to look past a down year after a Class AA North title and several Harvard Cups.
A new coach has improved the morale of the team, and the opening game of the year – in Syracuse University’s Carrier Dome Sept. 2 vs. Auburn – has the players thinking big things for the 2012 season.
“We’re starting at the dome, and I want to end at the dome,” said senior quarterback Justice Feggans, referencing the New York State title game played at the same location.
Feggans, also Fourth Team All-WNY in basketball, was dismissed from the football team by the former coach earlier in his career, but, urged on by his family, he wants to give football another go in his last high school season.
“I had to play football,” he said. “It’s my first love.”
With a new coaching staff in place, led by head coach Jose Rodriguez, Riverside is putting away its double-wing, option offense – which fell out of favor with the players as it struggled to score points – in favor of a spread attack.
“What the double-wing did was use deception and speed, where now we’re just going to be using our speed,” Rodriguez said. “We’re going to get to the outside because we already got our receivers out there.”
From the spread attack, which utilizes multiple-receiver sets, opposing defenses will be forced to cover all the receivers out wide. From there, the middle of the field will be open for Rodriguez’s rushing attack to pick up yards in chunks.
Rodriguez was Riverside’s offensive- and defensive-line coach for seven years before taking last season off. The players know him from working at the school and are taking a liking to his style.
“He’s a cool dude,” Feggans said. “He’ll crack jokes and keep you laughing, but he’s serious about football too. And when he’s serious, he’s serious."
And with this new mentality around the program, Feggans, a Riverside native, plans to help restore the team and the community to its winning status.
“[Everyone] is pumped. This school is based on the football team,” he said. “That’s what people talk about: Riverside, they got them boys over there that really know how to play football. I think this year, Coach Rodriguez is going to put us out there and showcase us to the world.”
--- Nick Veronica
taggedFootball | Riverside