The season no one imagined

Despite a losing season, “We are beyond a record,” senior RB Dean Watson said.


Jya Marshall

Enjoying the Friday night lights, the varsity football team prepares for the second half of the game against the Williamstown Braves.

Jya Marshall, Editor in Chief

The return of the long-awaited Friday night lights has ignited a nostalgic sensation amongst all members of the RV community, transforming almost two years of adversity and obstacles into a season of normalcy and overwhelming excitement. As the notorious student section flooded the stands at every game with school spirit, the RV marching band performing and the cheerleaders rallying the crowd of passionate parents, the 2021 football season was one that no one could have predicted or imagined. 

With a record of 1-7, gaining their first win 34-12 over Trenton this previous Thursday, the varsity team experienced an unexpected series of losses accompanied by a trend of unfortunate injuries. ,

“We were very excited to see how the senior leadership was going to propel us to a successful season,” said varsity coach Daniel Haverstick.

As many other coaches shared that spirit, it began to fade as the team ventured to Williamstown and received their first loss. The Braves scored 30 points, and the Devils trailed 6 points behind, ending the game with 24 points.

Tied the entire 4th quarter, 24-24, Williamstown QB Chase Kephart rolled into the end zone making the score 30-24 in the final two minutes of the quarter, making it unable for the Devils to come back. Not only did this close game begin the team’s trend of losses, but it also began the trend of injuries that “that has plagued us throughout the season,” Haverstick describes, including one of the team’s most valuable wide receivers and outside linebacker, senior Rashan Addison.

In one of the first plays of the season in the Williamstown game, Addison tore his ACL, PCL, LCL, MCL and meniscus that unfortunately removed him from the football season entirely in addition to the basketball and spring track seasons as well.

“Watching my teammates on the field has to be one of the most painful things I’ve ever endured,” said Addison. “Seeing them give it their all to not come out with the desired result is incredibly hard to cope with.”

However, beyond the score, the team still had some very great plays. “[Senior kicker] Joey Bryson has been outstanding in the kicking game, even hitting a 50-yard field goal against Williamstown,” Haverstick reflects. Senior WR Herbert Quaterman made an astonishing reception that fans believed put RV back into the game at the 10-yard-line. But, the clock unfortunately was the one thing the team couldn’t beat. 

The team then went on to face Washington Township, falling to the Minutemen 28-6. The team’s first home opener against Kingsway on Friday, September 24, was the first game that the RV spirit seemed to be relit. Despite leading the game into the fourth quarter, the Dragons blocked a punt by Bryson and headed straight towards the end zone taking the lead in the game. Kingsway’s running back Darell Brown Jr. rushed through RV’s defensive line, scoring a 43-yard touchdown and sealing the game 22-16 for a victory. 

In the second home game of the season, the Red Devils faced Saint Joseph Prep. Trailing behind since the first quarter, one of the most well-respected players, senior WR Colin Davis provided some hope for the remainder of the game, scoring a touchdown in the last five minutes of the third quarter, making the score 32 for the Hawks and 7 for our Devils, the extra point scored by Bryson.

Although the team’s record consisted of more losses than wins, Davis states, “it’s always a fun time going out on Friday Nights. Nowadays you never know when your last game is going to be [due to injuries], and we are lucky to go and play week in and week out.”

When asked about dependable players, Haverstick and other coaches were quick to name Davis as a dedicated and trustworthy player. “Colin Davis has been everything the coaching staff could ask for. He is making plays defensively, offensively, and on special teams. He has been a leader on/off the field and is the epitome of what RV Football is.” Haverstick said. This game ended with additional touchdowns by Saint Joseph, with the final score coming to 53-7.  

On October 8 the team traveled to and lost a tough game against Lenape. Senior QB Payton May faced various difficulties this season, and unfortunately, as QBs are often known as the faces of the team, encountered a lot of criticism from students and fans. 

May told many of the underclassmen players that “everyone loves you when you win and hates you when you lose, so don’t ride the hype, or they hate. Always stay level-headed.”

The October 16 home game against the Cherokee Chiefs created a cloud of discouragement over the team, after losing 38-7, and then the following week, falling to the Eastern Vikings, 31-21.

One bright spot amid two disappointing defeats was the student section, which showed up and showed out every game with creative themes and chants to uplift the team’s spirits.

“We aren’t there because of how good we are, or what our record is, we are there to cheer our team on and support them no matter what,” said co-President of the RV Fan Club, senior Kristina Seeton. “Win or lose, we will be there. Fans show up to have a good time and motivate the team.” 

After battling each week, the team finally saw some light at the end of the tunnel after pulling off their first win against Trenton Central. Opening up the first quarter with a kick return from Davis which landed the team at the 10-yard-line, the boys quickly had their first taste of victory after May rushed into the end zone for a touchdown. The second touchdown, scored yet again by May, and third scored by a reception by senior WR David Murry, the fourth rushed in by May, and finally, the last by Murry (all sealed by Byrson’s extra points) demonstrated impressive growth from the previous weeks.

Jya Marshall

 “My biggest obstacle this season was remaining injury-free as I had some back issues and pulled muscles,” said Bryson of some of the challenges he faced throughout the season. He noted being shocked by how quickly his senior year approached, but proud of his athletic accomplishments and performances this year.

“I am really happy with how I am playing so far, especially with my field goals because it is extremely rare that a high school kicker can hit a 50-yard field goal in a game,” he said.

Overall, the RV varsity football team has proven that their record is not an accurate representation of their hard work and grittiness, especially seniors May, Bryson, RB Dean Watson, WR Jalen Prilo, OLB Josh Lugo, Murry and WR Demarco Dennis who have been described as “workhorses” and “playmakers” by the coaching staff. Senior WR Masai Bryd and Quarterman were also mentioned by coaches and regarded as some of our fastest players who were crucial in big plays.

Although some may forget about them, as many defensive lineman play deep in the trenches, the coaching administration also wanted to show appreciation for the players who are key factors in the team’s offensive success, including seniors Joshua Oludoyi, Ryan Grimshaw, Jordan Skeen, Day and Owen Southwick.

Considering the various injuries suffered this season, many players have stated that it opened their eyes to the limitations of high school football and that the opportunity to play football can be taken away at any moment. Because the team will be losing a number of seniors, and that it may be the last they get to play under the lights, the coaching staff hopes that “that in itself should motivate those capable of playing to go out and play for their injured brothers,” Haverstick aspires.

As the team embarks on their last few practices before the end of the season, their drive, passion and grit must carry on for the Thanksgiving game on Wednesday, November 24, against Pemberton High School.