Northeast Times

GW dispatches Central, awaits Frankford

Wash­ing­ton got the best of Cent­ral in a 28-0 semi­final win, but a tough­er task in Frank­ford awaits on Sat­urday in a re­match of last sea­son’s title game. ABI RE­IMOLD / FOR THE TIMES

Start­Frag­ment

The game was barely two minutes old, but Alex Rivera had already done what his coach­ing staff and team­mates de­pend on him to do.

“That’s the way to set the tone,” said an en­thu­si­ast­ic voice from the side­line. “That is the way to set the tone.”

It might have only gone down as a small blip in the post-game stat­ist­ics, but Rivera’s 20-yard run was vin­tage foot­ball.

The seni­or full­back took a han­doff, broke four tackle at­tempts, and then lit­er­ally car­ried three de­fend­ers be­fore fi­nally be­ing dragged down near mid­field. Rivera’s army tank im­it­a­tion set up one of three first-quarter touch­downs that sparked George Wash­ing­ton High School’s con­vin­cing 28-0 de­moli­tion of Cent­ral in Sat­urday night’s Pub­lic League Gold Di­vi­sion semi­final at North­east High School.

The vic­tory powered the Eagles to the Pub­lic League cham­pi­on­ship game at the same ven­ue at 4 p.m. this Sat­urday. It will be a highly an­ti­cip­ated re­match of last year’s title game, which Wash­ing­ton won with the help of some costly Frank­ford mis­takes.

Bet­ter get your tick­ets early.

“We want this op­por­tun­ity,” said seni­or tight end and safety Rene Vil­la­fane, who scored the fi­nal touch­down against Cent­ral on a 13-yard pass from seni­or quar­ter­back Dave Gav­rilov, who played bril­liantly (11-for-14, 187 yards, two TDs). “I’ve been fol­low­ing George Wash­ing­ton foot­ball ever since I was six years old. This is for pride and joy. This is a big mo­ment.”

The Eagles (8-1) might have been af­forded some slack for look­ing past Cent­ral (6-3, only losses to GW twice and to Frank­ford) since they were already aware that Frank­ford, the only team to beat Wash­ing­ton this sea­son, had already de­feated North­east in the oth­er semi­final.

However, in a test­a­ment to their grit, the Eagles played hard from be­gin­ning to end. Even after seni­or Mar­quis Ed­wards’ four-yard run, ju­ni­or Ken Ever­age’s 35-yard jaunt, and seni­or Josh Ma­cauley’s 46-yard touch­down catch had staked Wash­ing­ton to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter, the Eagles nev­er let up.

One of those who made sure of that was as­sist­ant coach Frank Mc­Fil­lin. Des­pite the big ad­vant­age late in the second quarter, Mc­Fil­lin saw what he felt was a lack­a­dais­ic­al set by a mem­ber of the of­fense and im­me­di­ately re­placed the play­er.

Later, Mc­Fil­lin ex­plained.

“It doesn’t mat­ter what the score is,” he said. “The heck with that. It’s about do­ing things the right way.”

Do­ing things the “right way” is what the afore­men­tioned Rivera is all about.

While he rarely shows up in the box score, the 5-foot-8, 190-pound­er really doesn’t care. While he ad­mits to hav­ing a “nose for the end zone,” Rivera real­izes that his main task is help­ing oth­ers to get there.

“In the huddle, our run­ning backs (Ed­wards and Ever­age) say, ‘We’re just gonna fol­low you,’” he said. “So wheth­er it’s ten yards here, five there or an­oth­er five there, me and the (of­fens­ive) line know what our jobs are.

“I en­joy my role. I try and pump the team up. When I get the ball, I’m ex­pec­ted to hit the hole hard and fast and make it worth it. We all block for a reas­on. We’re all fam­ily.”

Rivera’s un­selfish and of­ten-un­noticed play — which in­cludes be­ing the snap­per on punts and field goals — wins praise from GW coach Ron Co­hen.

“He’s a great kid,” Co­hen said. “He’s the kind of play­er that every team needs. He leaves everything he has out on the field, wheth­er as a run­ner or a block­er or on spe­cial teams.

“He is a quiet lead­er. He leads by ex­ample. It’s all about what is best for the team. His team­mates and coaches re­spect him.”

Co­hen was asked if Rivera’s 20-yard run early in the game served as a sym­bol for how Wash­ing­ton played.

“Very much so,” he said. “This was one of our best games of the year. Ac­tu­ally, it was prob­ably our best. We played great in both halves and didn’t let up our in­tens­ity. The line, on both sides of the ball, did a great job.”

Rivera would like to play foot­ball in col­lege, but he isn’t think­ing about that right now.

“I’m just think­ing about Frank­ford,” he said. “I’m not too wor­ried about my­self right now.”

What a shock. ••

Re­port­er John Knebels can be reached at jknebels@gmail.com

You can reach at jknebels@gmail.com.

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