TAMPA — United and unbeaten, Riverview defeated Alonso 41-30 Friday night and is now 6-0 on the season.
“I’m so proud of this team that I can’t say enough about them,” said second-year Riverview coach Tony Rodriguez, who spent the better part of the past 20 years as an assistant at East Bay and Riverview. “We went 5-5 last year and I said this year we’ve got to take the next step. We’ve got to beat our biggest rival, which we did (East Bay, 18-12), and we want to make the playoffs.”
After the victory Friday, the playoffs seem like a lock for the Sharks, especially with their penchant for consistency, which they put on full display with their running game behind burly Dontarious “Rico” Shoats.
No matter the score — trailing 7-6 after the first quarter and 24-21 at the half — Shoats kept carrying the load, ultimately finishing with 27 carries for 222 yards and three touchdowns.
Shoats proved particularly handy on Riverview’s final drive of the night, an 80-yarder that chewed eight minutes off the clock and ended with a 4-yard touchdown run by quarterback Aaron Turner with less than a minute remaining.
Shoats? He carried it eight times for 40 yards on that final drive.
“I’m very sore right now, but I feel really good,” said Shoats, whose previous high for a game was 131 yards. “I have to give up to my big boys (the offensive line), because without them none of this would happen. That’s why I give them donuts all the time. I love my offensive line to death and I wouldn’t trade them for anyone.”
For a while it looked like Alonso (5-2) might pull off the victory, partly because of the sharp play of junior quarterback Joseph Glennon, who completed 15 of 21 passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns, including a 92-yarder to Julian Pryor that put the Ravens up 21-14 in the second quarter.
“Alonso did get us a couple of times, but we also made some big plays on defense,” Rodriguez said. “We did what we’ve done all year. We kept playing with confidence. We believe in ourselves.”
The biggest defensive play of the night arguably came in the third quarter when Alonso was driving for what might have been a tying touchdown. Instead, defensive back JJ Johnson leaped high and wrestled an interception from the hands of the Ravens receiver.
Riverview took over at its own 35-yard line and promptly marched 65 yards behind Shoats and bruising back Andrew Lee (four carries, 78 yards and a 25-yard touchdown run).