A great season came to a close for the Riverview football team in the muck and mire and in a driving rain in Allen Park on Sept. 29.
The Pirates fell 28-20 to the Jaguars in the first round of the 2021 Michigan High School Athletic Association state playoffs.
The game was played on probably the worst night of the 2021 season. It rained, and rained hard, throughout the contest and Allen Park’s natural turf field quickly turned into a natural bog and the conditions affected everything.
Allen Park is set to follow the lead other Downriver schools, including Riverview, and install a new synthetic turf field before next season, and it is safe to say the Pirates will have no trouble saying good-by this dirt and grass nightmare.
Allen Park scored first in the game and led 7-0 before the Bucs responded with a touchdown and a two-point conversion for an 8-7 lead.
Allen Park kicked a field goal in the second quarter and led 10-8 at halftime.
Riverview regained the lead when it scored on its first possession of the second half, but the 14-10 lead did not last for long as the teams exchanged a flurry of points.
Allen Park scored for a 16-14 lead and then picked off a rare Riverview pass and returned it for another score and a 22-14 lead.
Riverview responded when Jacob Shank took the ensuing kickoff back 99 yards for a touchdown and it was 22-20 heading into the final quarter.
Allen Park got an insurance touchdown and Riverview’s final two possessions died on downs and the game was finished.
Allen Park’s defense, combined with the tough conditions, held Riverview’s usually formidable offense in relative check during this game. The Bucs had just 138 rushing yards. Ben Johnson led the way with 52 yards and a touchdown. Reece Wakeman had 36 yards and a score.
The Bucs were also hindered by the loss of quarterback Preston Thompson, who broke his leg in the regular-season finale against Monroe the week before. Senior Nico Martin stepped in for Thompson and handled the Bucs during the playoff game, He was 5-for-10 passing for 76 yards.
The game marked the fourth playoff game between Riverview and Allen Park in the past seven years. Allen Park has won them all.
The loss capped a season that saw the Bucs win nine straight regular season games and the Huron League championship. Riverview beat playoff qualifiers Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central and Milan on back-to-back weeks and beat archrival Grosse Ile for the third straight year.
The win over Grosse Ile was a dominant one as the Bucs threw no passes, had 11 different players carry the ball, rang up 367 rushing yards and won 52-14.
Thompson and Jacob Puma each scored twice and Shank, Wakeman and Devin Sawmiller also each found the end zone.
In the regular season-ending victory over non-league Monroe, Thompson completed six passes for 72 yards and a score and the Bucs rushed for 325 yards and three more touchdowns.
The running attack was a team effort as Wakeman, Shupe, Johnson and Shank shared the load. Wakeman had 73 yards and a touchdown, Shupe had 78 yards, Johnson had 73 yards and a score and Shank had just two carries, but 80 yards and a touchdown.