Larison returns from injury; Riverton aims for regional title

The Rams face Osage City on Friday night for a 3A regional championship.

RIVERTON, Kan. – Derek Larison’s first game back from injury for Riverton was last Friday’s first-round playoff win over Eureka.

“It was so good,” Larison says of his return, “As soon I stepped on the field it was good to be back…and it was just amazing.”

The senior running back/linebacker suffered a broken collarbone in the team’s week three game against Galena.

The All-Conference and All-District selection spent the next six weeks working to get back to finish the season on his own terms – while at the same time trying to help his team get to where they are now.

“He was back out here running as soon as he could run,” says Riverton head coach Johnny Mallatt, “As soon as he could work on the sled, he was working on the sled. Our guys watched him, and watched how hard he was working to get back. I think when he finally stepped on that field in that jersey last Friday, it gave everybody a little boost.”

Larison and the Rams will play for a regional championship on Friday night, hosting Osage City.

“I’ve been in this place before, but these kids haven’t,” Mallatt says, “I’m probably more excited for the kids than I am myself. They’ve worked hard to get here.”

The Rams are 7-2 overall this season after last weeks playoff win over Eureka. It’s the first time Riverton has reached seven wins in a season since 2010.

It’s been a slow climb to this point for Riverton – after Mallatt took over as head coach five years ago.

“In the first year we had 16 kids out here. Now we run 35 or 40 kids out here,” Mallatt says of the Riverton football program, “They’re starting to play football again here at Riverton. If you get the kids out, we’ll have good football teams.”

“I’m stoked. We haven’t done this in a very long time,” Larison says of having the opportunity to play for a regional title, “All of these guys are just ready to do it in front of our home town and just really…try and get a win.”

Friday’s game will be a matchup of two different styles of football.

Riverton is a team that likes to line up and run it – while Osage City likes to sling it around a little bit on offense.

“We don’t throw the ball a lot,” Mallatt says, “I told our receivers, who are also our defensive backs, now you get a chance to catch some footballs on Friday night, because they’ll throw the football. They’ll throw it a lot, so we’ll have to be ready. It will be interesting.”

“I told the kids, you hear about how good Osage City is, but we’re pretty good, too,” Mallatt finishes, “I want those kids to be confident. Confidence is the main thing in a football player. Once you gain that, you got a chance to win a lot of games.”

Riverton hosts Osage City on Friday night at 7 PM.