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Riverview opens practice with new head coach PHOTO GALLERY

  • Like many area football teams, poor weather forced the Riverview Pirates inside on what was the first official day of practice. This season, Derek McLaughlin has stepped in as head coach for the Bucs after five seasons at Anderson. Photo gallery by Frank Wladyslawski

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For Derek McLaughlin, Aug. 11 marked the beginning of yet another season at the helm of a Downriver high school football team.

After five years as the head coach at Anderson, however, he now leads a new group of area players, one that also wears red, but a different shade.

McLaughlin was hired in March to replace Riverview Coach Jeff Stergalas, who retired after guiding the maroon and gold to a 6-4 record in 2013 and a playoff appearance.

While in Southgate, McLaughlin led the burgundy and silver to an overall record of 30-21 and landed in the postseason three times.

Unfortunately for McLaughlin, his first day of practice with the new team was hampered by bad weather and drills had to be held in the gymnasium.

“Because of the rain it’s not quite the start I wanted, but the kids are doing well and doing the best we can with what we have,” he said. “It’s going well so far, (but) we’ve got a long way to go. We’ve got a lot to learn, but the kids have responded well and they’re coming along.”

One big challenge for McLaughlin will be replacing some of the standout Pirates from last season, such as Josh Smith and Marcus Samuels. Last fall the duo piled up about 2,600 rushing yards together and scored a combined 42 touchdowns.

“Last year’s team, they had two very good running backs, this year’s team, there’s a lot of holes that have to be filled,” he said. “There’s some people that can do it, it’s just a matter of seeing them with their pads on, that will be the true test of it all.”

The Riverview season kicks off Aug. 29 with a battle against Garden City, on the road, and Huron League action will start the following Friday night with a game at Milan.

Last Updated: 8/11/2014 7:08:23 PM EST