By Hank Minckiewicz
– Riverview Register
The last two years have been pretty exceptional even for a football team with the pedigree of the Riverview Pirates.
In 2017 and 2018, the Bucs went 18-5 in all games, won a Huron League championship, outscored their opponents by combined 300-plus points and played in five Michigan High School Athletic Association playoff games.
It’s an enviable accomplishment by any measure.
But most of the players that contributed to those successes have graduated and Coach Derek McLaughlin and his staff dealing this year with a team that has talent, but limited experience.
“We have a lot of new guys,” said McLaughlin. “We are young and we lack experience; varsity experience. We don’t know yet how these guys are going to deal with adversity on this level. We don’t know the team’s identity. You can’t just say what your identity is, you have to go out and show it, prove it.”
On the positive side, McLaughlin said this team looks ready to learn and ready to lean on each other.
“We have really good chemistry,” the Riverview coach said. “These guys are coachable and they all really like each other, it’s kind of cool.”
While there are many young players on the team and new faces, McLaughlin said he has a good, solid core of veterans that he is very happy with.
“We have a good foundation,” he said. And most of that foundations plays along the offensive and defensive lines, which is not a bad place to start.
Seniors Garrett Vineski and Joe Martindale are returning two-way linemen and they are a couple of the team’s cornerstones. Vineski is a center and defensive tackle and Martindale is the right guard and defensive tackle.
Other key seniors are right tackle Edward Bryant, left tackle Brandon Igna and tight end Alex Smith. Igna is currently out with an injury, but McLaughlins aid he is expected back later this season.
The Bucs are also deep in the defensive backfield, where junior Jimari Moultrie and seniors Thomas Gardner and Austin Poe return. Moultrie was a defensive starter and a spot player at running back as a sophomore. McLaughlin said Gardner had a great sophomore season in 2017 and then missed all of 2018 with an injury.
Another returning defensive back is Brandon Maher, but he won’t see much time back there this season because he has moved over to offense, where he will play quarterback. He replaces the graduated Dominic Wood, who had a fine season running the Pirates’ offense a year ago.
“Brandon offers a lot of good leadership,” McLaughlin said.
Moultrie and Poe will play running back, but so will a lot of other guys.
“We have a lot of depth at running back,” said McLaughlin. “We have a lot of backs and that’s a good thing. They are all fairly young and ready to go.”
The Bucs went 6-2 in the Huron League last year and they will have to play well to finish that high again in 2019.
“I think the league is more competitive than I have ever seen it,” said McLaughlin. “SMCC has everyone back and a good group coming up; Grosse Ile has two of the best linebackers in the league; Flat Rock has one of the most dynamic players in the league and the system to showcase him…”
McLaughlin goes on through each league team and finished with this: “It’s super competitive and you have to come ready to play each week or you are going to lose.”
The Bucs hosted Flat Rock Sept. 13 and will go to SMCC Sept. 20.
Riverview 44, Romulus 18
For the third straight season Riverview opened its varsity football season by beating Romulus. And for the third straight year the Bucs scored more than 40 points. This year the final tally was 44-18.
The score was 22-6 at halftime.
Jimari Moultrie rushed for 54 of his team’s 410 total yards and scored on runs of two and eight yards. Christian Lopez scored on a 14-yard run, Austin Poe scored on a 57-yard run and Kenny Hightower scored on a five-yard run.
Riverview’s other touchdown cam when tight end Landon Kincaid jumped on a Riverview fumble in the end zone.
Romulus quarterback Dior Brown threw for 135 and three scores.
“He was good,” said Coach Derek McLaughlin of the Romulus quarterback. “He scranbed away from us and he has a strong arm.”
McLaughlin said he was happy with the win, but admitted that there is still work to be done.
“We definitely made some mistakes,” he said. “We have to do a better job sustaining our blocks and our ball security was not good. There are a lot of things we can fix.
“Our effort and pursuit to the ball defensively was really, really good.”
2019 Riverview Pirates Roster
- Cam Medal
- Jimari Moultrie
- Jose Hernandez
- Preston Thompson
- Brandon Maher
- Ben Johnson
- Christian Lopez
- Cal Lockhart
- James Smiley
- Jonathan Overal
- Jacob Puma
- Eion Evans
- Austin Poe
- Ken Hightower
- Luc Fleurant
- Anthony Duncan
- Drake Begeman
- Landon Kincaid
- Alex Smith
- Noah Grunwald
- Jalen Gonzalez
- Joel Rusnica
- Austin Shank
- Joseph Martindale
- Garrett Vineski
- Avery Thomas
- Miguel Cid
- Armando Escobar
- Patrick Fioretti
- James DeLay
- Robert Close
- Brandon Igna
- Jason Riddle
- Calen Roddin
- Edward Bryant
- Thomas Gardner
- Joseph Breezee