”JOE RIVERSO MEMORIAL” OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
By Matt Diano
”Live with a purpose; play with a purpose.”—-Russell Wilson
“You have to perform at a consistently higher level than others. That’s the mark of a true professional.”—Joe Paterno
No words could have rung truer when it came to the sensational individual efforts that our three Riverso Trophy recipients exerted week after week…
Three “cool customers” occupying three different positions, the trio combined to amass 6,654 yards of total offense, while scoring 76 touchdowns to turn a plethora of proverbial heads in 2023!
But perhaps their greatest statistical achievement could be seen in the win/loss column as their bravado was an indelible factor in transforming their schools from records of 2-8, 3-7, and 3-7 in 2022 to improved marks of 11-2, 8-3, and 4-6 this fall!!
Godsends to the very definition of the word, it is with the upmost delight that we recognize/celebrate RICH BELIN (AAA), JEREMIAH WILLIAMS (AA-1), & ISSAC GLAUDIN (AA-2) as the 2023 Riverso Memorial honorees!!
The dynamite that ignited an utter and complete resurgence in the Bronx, Belin was so magnificent during his junior campaign that quite frankly, the Metro Catholic OPOY ought to be the least of the praise that comes his way in the coming weeks as he certainly put himself firmly in the conversation for the overall NYS Player of the Year….Lethal with all limbs/appendages, as he’d rack up 200 or more yards with his arm on nine of 13 occasions, while using his legs to bank eight 100+ yard outings on the ground…All in all, there was no more formidable competitor in the NYCHSFL than the prince in the Cardinal Hayes’ #3 jersey as heading into the CHSAA State title contest, he was connecting at a 57% rate (135-of-237) for 2,936 yards (28 touchdowns), while out-racing his foes to the tune of 1,274 yards and 18 more scores on the ground….Taken separately, both of these stat lines would have made him a very strong candidate to win this award as he ranked 3rd in all of the Evil Empire in passing quantity and was 2nd (behind only his own teammate, Kenneth Antoine) in the entire NYCHSFL in rushing!!; but combined, it became a no-brainer!!….The sixth Cardinal in history to take home the Riverso, he not only forever sits in the presence of Jeremiah Kobena (2009), Dequan June (2011), Christian Anderson (2016), Lucas Nunez (2017), and Jalen Smith (2019); but also has the added privilege of bragging rights at the family dinner table as older brother/current Duke University Quarterback, Henry, missed out on the feat despite having a blessed career for Hayes from 2019-2021!
WIlliams, who after starting his career as a defensive back for the St. Peter’s Eagles, took to the running back position like a duck takes to water, was nothing short of phenomenal in his new role, as he’d finish his 11th grade season as the rush king in the AA-1 division, accruing 1,228 yards and finding paydirt on 16 unique occasions (2nd most in Double-A-1) to propel his school to a semifinal berth (only loss to the eventual champions from St. John the Baptist, who the Eagles beat during the regular season)….Crossing the century mark in seven of 11 appearances and registering multi-TD efforts in 6 of 11 (at least 1 touchdown in 9 games), “beginner’s luck” had nothing to do with the damage he did on land this season; rather, it was pure, unadulterated God-given TALENT that has him standing up here today!….Not necessarily a focus of their game-plan, Williams did display an ability to be quite effective as a pass-catcher out of the backfield, hauling in 10 receptions for an additional 166 yards and 1 more score!!…Of all the labels that fit him, groundbreaker needs to be attached, as he is formally the first STP player to be chosen for as the OPOY!
The only departing senior among our decorated trio, the splendor of Glaudin will be missed by all NYCHSFL enthusiasts in 2024, as he was so voltaic with the ball in his hands that Con Edison should offer him a NIL deal….A mainstay and maven on both sides of the ball, as well as special teams during the past three years in Flushing, a valid argument could be made that he was worthy of consideration for three of the four POYs, as he truly did provide instant excitement in everything he undertook for the Holy Cross Knights…..Totaling 1,360 yards and 14 touchdowns as the wearer of every hat imaginable, the 5’10, 165-pounder from Ozone Park was at his best when he was serving as a wide receiver, as he’d sweep the statistical AA-2 triple crown among pass targets by stockpiling career-highs of 34 grabs for 770 yards and 10 touchdowns (to raise his career sums to 90 for 1801, w/22 touchdowns)….As an exhibition of his well-roundness, Glaudin had his number called 27 times as a ball-carrier, averaging 10+ yards per attempt tack on an additional 279 yards and 3 scores (also tying or establishing all new personal-bests)….As a specialist, between KO (217 on 13 opportunities) and punt (78 + 1 TD on 4) returning duties, he generated 295 more yards….Defensively, he further solidified his status as “heart of the team” (per Coach Smith) by logging a career-best 36 stops, while intercepting a pass, breaking up 3 throws in his direction, and inducing a trifecta of fumbles!!….He is the Knights’ first recipient of the Riverso in 20 years, as before him, only Kevin Ogletree (2004), could brandish the trophy!