The rocky road started with mono and a broken foot as a freshman at Daniel Boone. It continued with concussions as a sophomore, and a troublesome shoulder as a junior. But last year the 6-foot, 195-pound linebacker stayed on the field long enough, and effectively enough, to earn first-team all-conference honors.
Rivers’ early days as a Boone athlete were difficult.
“It was tough, actually,” said Rivers on Wednesday during Boone’s football media day. “I came out every day and worked and (the broken foot) happened the second game of the season.”
Rivers missed the rest of the football season, but bounced back and had a strong freshman year in baseball. By the end of the year, he was the Trailblazers’ starting catcher.
It looked like Rivers was going to be significantly in the football mix as a sophomore, but he suffered an early season concussion. In his first game back from the head injury, he suffered another concussion and missed the remainder of the season.
It was a standout 2017 season for Rivers, but it wasn’t pain free. He hurt his shoulder in the first game of the season.
“It was kind of weird,” said Rivers. “I battled through it, but every time I hit someone my left arm would go numb. I really didn’t practice that much in pads. But on Fridays I stepped up and played.”
Rivers said he did not get a conclusive diagnosis for the shoulder problem.
“I don’t know what it was,” said Rivers. “I got dry needling done, but that didn’t help.”
This year, Rivers said he’s feeling good and ready to roll.
“I’m looking to come back and repeat my performance from last year,” he said.
Success at linebacker
Making plays is not possible without help from teammates, said Rivers.
“I couldn’t make plays without the down linemen,” he said. “Without them I wouldn’t know what to read. They tell you where the ball is going every time.”
A new role
Rivers will be used on offense this season as an H back and tight end.
“This year they have me going both ways,” he said. “That will be real fun. I enjoy it a lot.”
Rivers said he believes the Trailblazers have a chance to do nice things this season.
“We have a ton of potential,” he said. “We have two or three sophomores starting on the offensive line. If they step up and come up big, I think we will be perfectly fine. Our skill guys are really good.”
Rivers is good at baseball, having put together three solid seasons. But the top spot in his heart is still occupied by football.
“There’s nothing that compares to Friday nights,” he said. “I really enjoy it.”