Pioneers News · 2019 Football Preview

It was a season of historical significance for the Riverview Gabriel Richard football team last fall.

The Pioneers, who finished 7-5 overall, claimed the program’s first district title and scored the most points in school history.

Richard also won its first division title in 20 years after finishing first in the Catholic High School League intersectional 1.

So how do you top history?

It starts with getting back to work, doing what you did last season and improving on areas that need to be shored up. And that begins with head coach Thomas Michalsen, who is 35-32 during his eight seasons with the Pioneers. Helping him this season will be assistant coaches Ellis Slaughter, Jeff Hess, Jon Victor, Al Stewart, Jac Lemieux and Ben Konarski.

“We need to find a center and shore up the secondary,” Michalsen said when asked what the Pioneers need to accomplish in training camp. “And defensive line depth is always an issue.”

There are some experienced and talented players back on the roster this season including seniors Nathan Palumbo (RB/DE); Kenny Esquible (OL/DL); Ivan Hernandez (K/P); and junior Michael Holdsclaw (RB/DE).

Palumbo was All-Catholic in 2018. He rushed for 630 yards and 11 touchdowns and had 41 tackles and nine sacks on defense. Holdsclaw was also All-Catholic last fall. He finished with 21 tackles, two sacks and out of the backfield rushed for 355 yards and six touchdowns.

“Our team strengths include running back and linebackers and we have three-year starters at long snapper and kicker,” said Michalsen.

Hernandez was 43-for-46 kicking PATs last year and he was an all-state soccer player.

Top newcomers include sophomores Ethan Mehall (RB/LB) and Nick Szczechowski (RB/DB); senior Robbie Henderson (WR/DB); and junior Drew Daiek (WR/OLB).

The goals for the season include competing again for a division title and getting back to the postseason.

“We are looking for more balance on offense and to stop the big play through the air,” Michalsen says.

The Pioneers will open the season at home on Aug. 29 against Grosse Ile.