Since the start of the MHSAA playoffs, Riverview and Dearborn Divine Child seemed to be on a collision course to meet in the regional title game.
Dearborn Divine Child at Riverview Regional Football Photo Gallery
The two teams took care of business in the first two rounds and faced off Friday night on the Riverview turf.
While the Falcons gave the Pirates a battle along the way, they were unable to contain Riverview’s powerful ground attack, led by Jacob Shank.
Guided by five rushing touchdowns from Shank, the Bucs cruised to a 45-35 win and claimed their first regional championship trophy since 2017.
With the win, Riverview improved to 12-0 and faced Goodrich in a D4 semi-final on Saturday November 19.
“It was a great game of football,” Bucs coach Derek McLaughlin said. “Divine Child did a great job; it’s a tough football team and they have good playmakers. We’ve been tested, we’ve been tested for sure.
The Bucs’ 12 wins are the most in program history.
For the Falcons (9-3), quarterback Robert Lalain threw two touchdown passes to Nick Cibor and he rushed to get one. Marcello Vitti ran for a touchdown, and he returned a kickoff for six runs.
Under first-year head coach Chris Laney, Divine Child secured a playoff berth this year for the first time since 2017 – a season that also ended in a loss to Riverview in the round regional.
“I love our group and I’m proud of them,” Laney said. “This game does not define us. It was a hell of a season. »
The teams were tied for most of the game, but it looked like Riverview would retire in the third quarter, after a 52-yard touchdown run from Shank put his team ahead 38-21 late in the third quarter. .
However, the Falcons scored twice early in the fourth and trailed by just three runs with 9:28 left.
The Bucs then got big first downs from Max Lockhart, Gavin Blackwood and quarterback Lucas Thompson. Near the five-minute mark, Thompson got past Shank and the senior quick ran 20 yards for his fifth touchdown of the night.
Shank had over 250 rushing yards in the game and he had one interception on defense. The previous week, he rushed for 180 yards and three points against Tecumseh.
“He’s a great football player, he does a lot of good things, he’s very athletic,” McLaughlin said. “He worked hard to get this job and I’m really proud of him.”
Early on, the Bucs took a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter after Thompson scored on a 15-yard run and Jakob Rose scored the extra run.
On the first play of the second quarter, Vitti took a transfer from Lalain and bolted 48 yards into the end zone. Kicker Dejai Robinson scored the extra run, which tied things up, and he was perfect that night.
It only took 50 seconds for the brown and white to respond.
Shank got the call and sprinted 50 yards to pay the dirt. The PAT was missed and the hosts led 13-7.
Six minutes later, Cibor had a nice catch at the Bucs 2-yard line and scored a touchdown, giving his team a one-point advantage. Two early tries from Tyler Traub helped set up the goalscoring game.
This lead lasted less than two minutes. Shank picked up the ball at the Falcons’ 47 and again passed everyone in the end zone. Thompson scored on the 2-point conversion and Riverview were up 21-14.
At the ensuing kick-off, Vitti lined the ball up on his own 21-yard line. The freshman evaded some would-be tacklers, then turned on the jets and raced into the end zone to tie the game.
The Bucs again lost ground and with four seconds left in the half, Rose nailed the field from 33 yards to give the home side a 24-21 lead.
Divine Child attempted an onside kick to open the second half – a move that backfired. Riverview recovered at 50 and on the first play from scrimmage Shank left everyone in the dust. The PAT was missed, and the Bucs led 30-21.
In the final two minutes of the quarter, Shank ignited the large home crowd with another long touchdown run, this time from 52 yards. Lockhart participated in the 2-point conversion and Riverview had a 38-21 advantage.
Dearborn’s group headed downfield and just as the fourth quarter started, Lalain hit Cibor in the end zone for an eight-yard touchdown.
Divine Child attempted another onside kick and this time Ethan Perkins jumped on it for the Falcons.
On a play of 4th and 1, a tackle for a loss from Gabriel Landskroener of Riverview forced a turnover on tries. The Bucs immediately returned on a fumble which was picked up by the Falcons’ Chris Cadena at Riverview 23.
Shortly after, a 13-yard springboard from Vitti set up a one-yard touchdown for Lalain. The visitors suddenly trailed only 38-35 and still had more than nine minutes to work.
With the lead narrow, Riverview got first downs from Lockhart, Blackwood and Thompson, the latter being at Divine Child’s 20-yard line.
The ball was handed to Shank once again and the talented fullback delivered an additional six points. Rose hit the PAT and Maroon and White led by 10 runs.
Divine Child had one more chance, but a pass from Lalain was caught and the party started for Riverview.
In the semifinals, the Bucs will face Goodrich on Saturday, November 19. It will be played at a neutral venue and the match time has not yet been announced. Riverview’s last visit to the semi-finals ended in a 21-0 loss to the now closed Farmington Hills Harrison.
For Riverview, it capped off a great season for the program, which included nine district title wins. Lalain is one of 11 seniors on the team who will graduate in the spring.
“Very proud of our senior class,” Laney said. “They bet on me as a first-year football head coach. It’s a class I’ll never forget. From day one, they worked hard. They were asked to do as much as possible. effort, I think it was obvious tonight. The boys played four quarters. They did everything we could ask for.