Riverview, Binz ready to display improvement for ’18 season
Devon Binz’s face lit up when he talked about how the Riverview football team has improved from the end of the 2017 season to now and how it is building to have a bigger impact on the field this fall.
“We’ve had a lot of enthusiasm, and everyone has put in 100 percent from the start,” said Binz, a senior tailback and linebacker who led the Raiders in rushing yards and touchdowns last year.
“I just want to go out and work hard every day and get better and help my team get better.”
Binz carried the ball 128 times last year, compiled 506 yards on the ground and tallied nine touchdowns as Riverview tried to find its footing throughout the season. The Raiders finished 2-7 overall and 1-6 in the Class A Eastern Conference.
“We put in so much work in the offseason and over the summer, especially in the weight room,” said Binz, who now checks in at 5-foot-10, 175 pounds. “I know I am a lot stronger than last year, no doubt.”
Todd Massack, with more than a decade as a coach in the Riverview football program, including seven as head coach from 2007-13, is back at the helm of the Raiders and has joined others on the coaching staff in implementing a few new offensive schemes.
“We’re using everyone’s abilities to the fullest and making adjustments to bring out those abilities,” Binz said.
Binz is not necessarily a back who will both run the football and catch passes out of the backfield like Steelers back Le’Veon Bell.
“I know I will get my carries, and I know the talent (at receiver) will make plays,” he said.
Binz said he enjoys sharing the backfield with fellow senior and good friend J.D. Sykes, who collected 223 yards and a touchdown on 53 carries a year ago.
“We still have that competition, but we’re working together to make the run game the best it can be,” Binz said. “I know he’s going to have a great season.”
The offense gets going up front, and Binz said he appreciates the offensive line and has confidence in what that unit has done to help better itself.
“Last year, they were young,” he said. “All of them have gotten strong and more athletic. I am excited to run behind them.”
As Binz appreciates the confidence of the coaches and welcomes the pressure to get the job done on both sides of the ball -- he added 23 tackles, picked off two passes and recovered a fumble from his defensive back spot last year -- the coaching staff, Massack said, appreciates what he has done as a leader heading into the 2018 season.
“Devon understands that we’re going to run the ball, and he will be a big part of that,” Massack said. “But he knows he’s not the only person. He’s not carrying the team on his shoulders, and he can play more relaxed because of that.
“He has a great work ethic. He only missed one day of workouts over the summer. It was the day after we had a big storm -- his dad runs a landscape business -- and he helped his dad clear out some limbs and trees. In a sense, he was still working out. He works hard in everything he does and really leads by example.”
Riverview will get another chance to show its stuff in the preseason as it scrimmages Deer Lakes on Friday.
Then it’s on to the season opener at Eastern Conference foe Greensburg Central Catholic on Aug. 31, followed by the nonconference home opener against Tribune-Review Class 2A No. 5 Charleroi on Sept. 8. The Raiders again will face three of Class A’s elite in Imani Christian, Jeannette and Clairton.
“We want to go out and play with everything we have every week,” Binz said. “We want to leave everything out on the field and see what happens. It’s about giving 100 percent.”
Binz said he is not alone in the excitement surrounding the series of night games under the lights at Riverside Park in early October. A junior high football game will be Oct. 3, and a varsity soccer doubleheader will be Oct. 4. Riverview faces Jefferson-Morgan in the night-game finale Oct. 5.
“It’s pretty special,” he said. “Everyone throughout the school is so excited for it. The whole school goes out and supports the teams. It’s a lot of fun.”