He may not steal the headlines like other members of the Millville High School football team, but two-way lineman Keyvon Rivera quietly continues to be a major reason for the program’s success.
The 6-foot-1, 250-pound senior is a three-year starter in the trenches for the Thunderbolts, lining up at right guard for one of the Cape-Atlantic League’s most potent offenses and at left end on a talented defense.
Often overlooked due to the thankless nature of playing in the trenches, Rivera, like most linemen, looks around him for a stamp of approval of his work, particularly on offense. Millville boasts one of the best running backs in South Jersey in junior Rob Ennis Jr., who entered Friday’s game against Holy Spirit with 728 rushing yards and eight touchdowns.
That’s evidence enough of the job Rivera and company are doing to propel the offense.
“Rob gets the glamor and the stats, and rightfully so, he’s a great back,” Rivera said. “But it starts with us up front, and we take a lot of pride in that. We want to help him break all of the school’s rushing records.”
Since he plays on both sides of the ball, Rivera has developed great instincts that have helped him tremendously on the field. He knows firsthand the tendencies of offensive and defensive linemen, and that experience has made him a better player.
“You pick up on different things, like if I’m lining up on defense against a tackle, he might do something that tips me off that it’s a passing set,” Rivera said. “Those kinds of things can give you an advantage.”
Speaking of defense, Rivera admitted he prefers that side of the game a tad more than offense, saying it’s “more exciting.”
“It can be more fun,” said Rivera, adding he believes he’s more valuable to Millville’s offense. “When you beat your man and get a sack, it’s just you and the quarterback. There’s some thrill in that.”
But sixth-year Millville coach Jason Durham was quick to dispel Rivera’s notion that he has more upside as a blocker for the Bolts.
“I think he’s equally valuable on both sides of the ball,” Durham said.
Rivera has come to be a player Millville’s staff can rely on without hesitation. With Rivera, the Bolts know what they’re getting.
“He’s very coachable and very consistent,” Durham said. “That’s something that’s always stuck out about Keyvon.”
Rivera has made an impact on his teammates as well, thanks to his steady demeanor and production.
The senior has become a player other Bolts can model themselves after.
“He shows up week in and week out,” fellow senior two-way lineman Antoine White said. “I think he’s very underrated on offense and defense. He does things that sometimes you don’t appreciate.
“He’s a great communicator, a real vocal leader for us. Keyvon’s the type of player that you want to follow his lead.”
Thanks to players like Rivera, Millville is well on its way to a fourth straight postseason berth this year.