Michael “Big Mike” Rivera had the best seat in the house for the Cedar Crest football team’s season-opening matchup with Northeast High School from Philadelphia at Earl Boltz Stadium on Friday night.
And his former teammates made sure that Rivera liked what he saw while looking down on them from above.
With memories of the popular and personable Rivera, who tragically lost his life in a car crash back in April, on their minds and in their hearts, the Falcons opened the 2023 season with a thorough 24-0 victory over Northeast High School from Philadelphia.
Led by an interception from Logan Oriel and a fumble recovery by Richie Hernandez, Cedar Crest pitched a shutout on defense with the help of a goal line stand in the waning seconds of play and got all the offense they would need in the form of Fernando, Marquez’s 20-yard TD burst with 7:55 left in the opening quarter.
The Falcons added a 7-yard scoring run from quarterback Jackson Custer midway through the second quarter and closed the half with a 23-yard TD pass from Custer to Jack Waranavage with just 43 seconds remaining before intermission, for a commanding 21-0 lead.
Even more impressive was the way the Falcons honored their fallen teammate and his family, who was in attendance, with a pregame moment of silence, among other tributes.
“Michael was a big personality that has inspired us all to be better and to care for each other,” said Cedar Crest head coach Rob Wildasin said of Rivera, who would have been a senior.
The contest’s other main storyline was Cedar Crest’s inspired defensive play, which bottled up Northeast throughout and without being bothered a bit by the heat and humidity that hung over the area Friday.
“Great job by the defense,” said Wildasin. “It was a battle of attrition tonight with the heat. The kids from Northeast were very physical.”
Cedar Crest, which next travels to Central Dauphin East for a non-league clash on Thursday, seemed to tire on offense in the second half, though, managing only Ethan Bowman’s 35-yard field goal in the fourth quarter that provided the final margin of victory.
“Now we need to get ourselves healthy for a Thursday night battle at CD East,” said Wildasin.
Cedar Crest Falcons
Head Coach: Rob Wildasin
Assistant Coaches: Nick Lambros, Brandon Kirsch, Brian Powers, Tom Gerhart, Shawn Rambler, Tom Waranavage, Logan Horn, Jona Padilla, Nevin Pagan, Bob Peebles, Bob Griffiths, Gary Wildasin
|1||Leo Tirado Jr.||12||WR/DB|
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