River Rouge and Riverview will meet in one of the premier match-ups in the state on Friday night. The Panthers (5-1) are the defending Division 3 State Champions and Riverview (7-0) is the #1 seed in the district. Both teams are ranked in the top 10 in every poll in Michigan. River Rouge defeated Carlson 21-0 in the District quarter-final while Riverview handled Melvindale 59-6 to set up the semi-final game at Don Lessner Stadium.
Riverview is coached by Derek McLaughlin (47-23) who is in his 7th season. The Pirates were the champions of the Huron League. On offense, QB Preston Thompson leads the way for a unit that averages nearly 330 yards per game. Most of that yardage is on the ground. The Pirates boast a backfield that operates by committee and includes Christian Lopez, Jacob Puma, Ben Johnson and Jimari Moultrie. The offensive line is led by Avery Thomas, Drake Begeman and Gabe Landskroener.
On defense, the Pirates are giving up just over 10ppg. The defense is led by Lopez and Noah Grunwald. Outside linebackers Landon Kincaid and Cal Lockhart have recorded double-digit TFL’s. LB Jacob Shupe has had a solid season while the defensive line that includes Patrik Fioretti, Justin Shank and Joseph Breezee has been stout.
River Rouge is led by Cory Parker, who has built the Panther into a state power since he arrived at the Schaefer Rd school nearly a decade ago. The Panthers are led by Western Michigan commit, Mareyohn Hrabowski. The 6-3, 205 lb QB is a Pro-style QB that leads a balanced offense. Charles Daniels IV is a small running back by stature at 5-7, but packs a solid 185 lb frame. He is the feature back in the Panther offense. Jalen Johnson and Chance Moore anchor a solid offensive line. Moore has committed to play for Tyrone Wheatley and the Bears of Morgan State.
While the Panthers can score with anybody on offense, their calling card is defense. Rouge has given up only 21 points all season and those came in a 21-6 loss to undefeated East Lansing. The Panthers have blanked every other foe this season. The defense features play-makers Ronnie Smith Jr. and Jalen Holly. Holly also shines on offense for the Panthers while playing receiver. The defensive line is anchored by Central Michigan commit Pius Odjugo (6-3, 320lb). Senior safety, Armarion Smith has committed to Cincinnati.
FNV Outlook: This is a game that could go either way and most likely will be a low scoring affair. The key for Riverview will be their ability to have long sustaining drives that keep the powerful Rouge offense off of the field. On the other side, if the Panthers can keep Riverview behind the sticks on offense, this should be a game that the defending champs win. This FNV guy has a hunch that this game will come down to QB play. River Rouge has the advantage there with Hrabowski, but don’t be surprised in this is a coming out party for Thompson, who can really zing the ball if necessary. FNV will be at the game with live coverage tonight.
- Chris: Riverview
- Gary: Rouge
- Frank: Rouge