While he was quick to point out that his team has work to do before next season, Riverdale High football coach Rob Hinson could not help but be pleased with what he saw out of his Raiders in Friday night’s spring game at Riverdale High.
The Raiders topped Estero 24-6 in three varsity quarters behind a stout defense and an effective offense led by rising junior quarterback Jesse Lighthall.
“We’ve got some things to clean up,” said Hinson, alluding to his team’s two turnovers and 85 penalty yards.
We’re doing some different things. We’ve just got to clean it up a little bit. I liked what I saw (Friday).”
Riverdale jumped out to a 7-0 lead when rising junior Austin Alphonso scooped up a blocked field goal and took it 85 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter.
The Raiders led 10-0 at the half after rising senior kicker Brian Abrams banged home a 37-yard field goal as time expired in the first half.
Rising junior Ryan Pulley took some snaps at quarterback in the second half for Riverdale and put his athleticism on display.
Pulley scampered 46 yards virtually untouched for a touchdown that made the score 17-0 and had a 68-yard touchdown run called back because of a holding penalty not long after that.
Lighthall connected with rising senior Malcolm Smith on a 27-yard touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter for Riverdale’s final touchdown of the game.
Estero scored its lone points with 1:37 left in the game when rising senior Nick Nataro, who is verbally committed to Arizona, snagged a 58-yard touchdown pass from rising junior Cody Long.
New Estero coach Mark Jackson said he was happy with how hard the Wildcats played.
“We were able to move the ball but we have to be more consistent,” Jackson said. “I’m pleased with the effort of our kids…We have a new staff, new system on both sides of the ball.”
The Wildcats’ offensive line struggled to consistently protect Long, who finished the game 10-for-17 for 162 yards.
“We are going to wake up Monday morning and keep grinding,” Jackson said. “We’ve got camps, 7-on-7…we are really going to grind for the next two months. I’m excited.”
Riverdale’s junior varsity team defeated Estero’s JV team 12-0 in the first quarter of play. The score was then reset and the varsity teams played for three quarters.
Rising senior Byron Dean led all rushers in the game with 97 yards on 10 carries for Riverdale.
“We are a young team that is still learning the game and maturing a little bit,” Hinson said. “I like the group we have. I thought the defense played real aggressive. They came up with a turnover and a touchdown for us. They were real aggressive running to the football and that’s what we were looking for this spring.”
Riverdale: Austin Alphonso 85 blocked field goal return (Brian Abrams kick)
Riverdale: Abrams 37 FG
Riverdale: Ryan Pulley 46 run (Abrams kick)
Riverdale: Malcolm Smith 27 pass from Jesse Lighthall
Estero: Nick Nataro 58 pass from Cody Long (run failed)