RIVERVIEW — Riverview runs an option-heavy offense that puts a lot of emphasis on having a good offensive line to clear the way for the running backs.
Senior Hal Roberson is a key member of the Sharks’ offensive line and embraces the challenge.
“If I mess up one time, I beat myself up. (The running backs) need to have confidence in the offensive line that we can block for them,” Roberson said.
The Sharks should have plenty of confidence in Roberson this year. He has been playing football since he was 6 years old and has played offensive line most of his career. This year, Roberson also will see time on the defensive line.
“Coach (Mike) Thornton always wanted me to play defensive line. This offseason I kept reminding him that I finally wanted to do it,” Roberson said.
To prepare for his role as a two-way player, Roberson said he went on a diet and it has made him quicker for both the offensive and defensive line.
“I was 330 pounds by the end of my junior year. Right now I am around 280,” Roberson said. “I am in the best shape I have ever been.”
Roberson said he hopes to play in college, where he would like to study business.
Given his tenacity on the field, Roberson will have no problem getting things done off of it.
“Football is all about the mentality. We have to build that as a team going into the season,” Roberson said.
Riverview has a simple philosophy when it comes to offense.
“We want to run the ball, control the clock and keep the opponents’ best players off the field,” head coach Mike Thornton said.
The strategy almost worked last year. Even though the Sharks went 2-8, they took East Bay to double overtime, had a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter against Bloomingdale and had the ball with the lead and less than two minutes to play against Freedom. In all of those games, turnovers ended up costing Riverview the game.
“We felt a little snake bit last year. We had some inopportune fumbles and it hurt us,” Thornton said.
Look for Howell Roberson and Reggie Desronvil to anchor the offensive line and clear the way for the running game.
The Sharks also like to keep it simple on defense.
“We want to play mistake-free and force the other team to be disciplined,” Thronton said.
Though several key players from last season were lost to graduation, linebacker Cory Jones returns as a third-year starter. The Sharks also will get a lift from tackle Joe Lugo, who will be returning from a knee injury that kept him out of action last season.
Riverview hasn’t won more than three games since 2007. Given how last season went, the Sharks have a chance to eclipse that total if they can stay away from the turnovers.
“We have to stay away from the meltdowns in the fourth quarter. We have to rise to the occasion,” Thornton said.
The Sharks will get a chance at revenge in their first game against East Bay. If Riverview prevails, Thornton thinks it might just propel the Sharks this season.
“The East Bay game sets the tone. It can give us a shot of momentum if we win,” Thornton said.
♦ About The Sharks
Stadium: J. Vince Thompson Stadium, 11311 Boyette Road, Riverview
Class-District: 8A-6 (with Alonso, Bloomingdale, Newsome, Plant and Wharton)
Coach: Mike Thornton (4-16, third season)
Last season: 2-8
Sept. 5: at East Bay
Sept. 12: at Brandon
Sept. 19: Wharton
Sept. 26: Middleton
Oct. 2: at Plant
Oct. 10: Strawberry Crest
Oct. 17: at Bloomingdale
Oct. 24: Alonso
Oct. 31: Newsome
Nov. 7: at Freedom