By DON JENSEN
© St. Petersburg Times, published August 26, 2000
TAMPA -- For Riverview coach Alex Albert, it was a night for experimentation and observation. It was also a time for reflection.
Albert, who coached at Leto for 11 years, 10 as head coach, before taking over at Riverview in 1998, enjoyed a pleasant homecoming Friday as the Sharks rolled to a 29-14 victory over the Falcons in a preseason classic.
The event, a four-quarter contest with the junior varsity teams playing in the first period, was a tuneup for the start of regular season. Riverview will entertain Tampa Bay Tech on Friday while Leto travels to Jefferson.
Any anxiety Albert had before the contest was solved by his steadiest running back, junior Avious Steadman, who rushed for 178 yards on 14 carries and two touchdowns. Steadman gained 144 yards and scored twice in the second half as the Sharks finished with 231 yards on 27 rushes.
"On the way over here, I really wasn't thinking that much about me coming back," Albert said. "But once I stepped off the bus and saw all my old friends, it kind of hit me. It sure was a night down memory lane."
Seeing Albert also brought back memories for Leto coach Andy Martin.
"Alex is the one who recommended me for my job here at Leto," Martin said. "We're close friends."
Nostalgia aside, it was Riverview's offensive line that wore down Leto. Benefitting from a Falcon line that had to play both offense and defense, the Sharks stayed mostly on the ground and averaged 7.9 yards on 21 second-half carries. Riverview also had three touchdowns nullified by penalties, including two long runs (72 and 69 yards) by Jahmile Addae. The Sharks were penalized 11 times for 105 yards.
"Our offensive line averages about 270 pounds per player and it did a pretty good job, especially in the second half,"' Albert said. "We've still got things to work on, but I put a lot of players in at certain spots and watched to see how they reacted."
Riverview was staked to an 8-0 lead on Brian Rice's 8-yard touchdown run before the varsity took the field. A 25-yard scoring run by Charlie Ross gave the Sharks a 15-0 halftime advantage.
Maurice Nedd's 97-yard kickoff return and a 14-yard pass from Terrance McKennon to Boyce Gillette accounted for Leto's two touchdowns. The Falcons were limited to 133 yards total offense.