The Riverview Sharks are looking to change the culture under first-year head coach Tony Rodriguez. The team went 2-8 last year and hasn’t made the playoffs since the 2019-20 season. The Riverview native was an assistant coach at the school under coach William Mosel in that record-setting season.
Rodriguez and company are off to a great start after beating Lennard 20-6 in their spring game. The Sharks gained junior transfer quarterback Aaron Turner in the offseason as well.
Riverview was going to sport a single-wing, run-heavy offense until the talented Turner walked through the doors of the team facility. Rodriguez said that the signal-caller has all the tools, including a strong arm, the ability to tuck the ball and run and a confidence and swag that a quarterback should have. He will bring more balance to the passing game, working both a four-minute and two-minute offense. Turner works with renowned trainer and former South Carolina QB Stephen Garcia in the offseason to hone his skills.
Davidson commit, star slot receiver Harrison Hensley was able to move back to his natural position when Turner came in. Hensley was taking the snaps at QB in the spring game. Other key players on an offense that brings back five starters include 5’11”, 215-pound running back Dontarious ‘Rico’ Shoats, who was just short of 1,000 rushing yards last season and will carry the load for the Sharks in 2022, and the big offensive line will be anchored by Jon Stark at 6’3” and 325 lbs.
Rodriguez thinks that his team’s major strength will be their defense, which brings back six starters, and their depth. Riverview is senior-heavy at the defensive back position, which bodes well for the secondary. They will run an odd-front, base-50 system, playing multiple coverages. The D will be basic, working on fundamentals and being gap sound. Key players include junior middle linebacker Niko Gnann, who led the team last year with 102 tackles; Jefferson transfer defensive back, junior Alloysius Tyson; senior safety, captain Zion King-Collier; senior defensive lineman Hayes Thomas, who was a state qualifier in wrestling last year and will anchor that line; junior Franki Santiago, a tremendous athlete who will play defensive end; and Bloomingdale transfer, junior lineman Adrian Zalduondo.
Senior kicker Andrew Cervetti will handle punting, kicking and kickoff return duties. Rodriguez said that the specialist is a multisport athlete who competes in track, shot put, javelin and men’s volleyball and is the strongest kicker in the county, squatting 405 pounds.
It’s a major bonus that the Sharks have depth at most positions and don’t need to use many two-way players. This will keep them fresh during games and will allow them to compete against each other in practice. In the offseason, the team has focused on fundamentals and getting stronger in the weight room. Their motto is “Count on me.”
Riverview will take it one game at a time and should be competitive this year while building for the future. Rodriguez thinks that his team plays in one of the toughest districts in Florida with Newsome, Durant and Sumner.
“We can’t worry about who we play, we’ve got to worry about how we play,” said Rodriguez. “We have to take care of things we can control and not worry about the things we can’t.”