The Riverhawk Review: By Jerry Mercado

It’s not breaking news that the Chiawana Riverhawks are good this year. In fact, they are the best team I’ve seen in this area since the last time Coach Graff brought home a State title with Pasco in 2003.

The Chiawana Riverhawks
The Chiawana Riverhawks

Coach Steve Graff, for some just getting familiar with High school football, has Coached 3 State champions (’98, ’00, ’03) All with Pasco High School before the addition of 4A Chiawana High School, the second High School in Pasco.

Typically, over these last 5 years I’ll ask all the high school Coaches how the team is looking heading into the season.

Most give me an optimistic outlook and feel really good about the work their kids have put in. Most that is except Coach Graff. When I ask him about his team he’ll give me a bunch of areas where they need to work to get better, never any fluff about how great they are.

This is how he answered that question this year, little different than most “I think we look pretty good, most of these guys have been in the weight room all year, and we have some kids that have stepped up as leaders.”

Coming into the fall there was a lot of hype surrounding this team but they have lived up to that hype and maybe even surpassed how good most thought they’d look.

Deion Singleton
Deion Singleton

Perhaps the hype intensified when they received an special addition in a Godby H.S. (Florida) transfer. Senior Deion Singleton a young man who has received double digit offers to play division 1 football. For some this has been repeated over and over but what you might not know is why he moved from Florida to the Tricities?

I was watching ESPN in the late summer and I noticed a high school game had been featured and the team was Deion’s former team Godby. So you again ask yourself how can a kid with SEC offers and a chance to shine on ESPN leave all of that for the Tricities?

What you may not know is that he has a big Brother in the Tricities that he worships. Deion’s Brother Lionell Singleton has traveled quite a journey to end up here. His story is inspirational as he was also a top recruit coming out of high school himself, rushing for 2,000 yards to go along with 5 interceptions at a Florida high school, to playing for Florida International University and becoming an NFL prospect. Lionell was 1st team All Sunbelt 2 years, tied for the most interceptions in a year with 5 and an all American as a kick returner. He was one of the top 25 defensive backs in the Country before a severe hamstring injury ended his senior season at FIU. He made it to the New Orleans Saints training camp before the same hamstring injury caused him to miss out on his dream. He would spend the next 2 and half years living out of his car while still trying to chase down his dream of playing in the NFL. He eventually would land with the Tricity Fever arena football team based in Tricities Washington. In this time Lionell has dedicated his life to giving back to the youth, starting when he played for Florida International University, where he volunteered in after school programs in Miami, Florida. He has in fact started his own after school program with the help of the Cathedral of Joy Church called “After School Matters.”

This has created the opportunity for Lionell to move his family from Florida to his home in Pasco, Washington and for Deion to now be with the Brother the he looks up to. This close relationship may also open the door for a Pac-12 school if Deion chooses to stay closer to his family.

Alex Weber
Alex Weber

Senior LB/RB Alex Weber also has multiple division 1 offers which include a handful of Ivy League schools and has been receiving such attention since his sophomore year.

Watching his beggining of the year highlights on Hudl is like watching a typical players full year of highlights to say the least. What has been most impressive is all of the work he has put in with his nutrition and agility. When I first met Alex he was a sophomore at an MMA gym that he owned and he had clear aspirations to do bigger and better things beyond the football field.

What you may not know is pretty much all of Alex’s life his Father has made sure at least once a year the family spends a couple of weeks in a foreign Country to experience other cultures, especially the Spanish speaking countries they’d visit since his Father was fluent in the Spanish language. They would rent a car and drive to smaller towns and spend time seeing how people lived and worked.

“I remember being really impressed with how little outwardly so many in foreign countries seemed to have in comparison to our country, but the families being so happy and not seeming like they lacked anything.” Said Weber when talking about the lessons he learned during this experience.

From this Alex gained a lot of respect for other cultures and a huge appreciation for the opportunity from being born in the United States.

“I remember thinking for years I would never let myself take an opportunity for granted. From long hours in the gym, my MMA training, staying on track to get my AA degree before my high school diploma to then accumulate enough college credits I could double major at one of the colleges offering me a scholarship, I am motivated to take full advantage of every opportunity the Lord opens up for me.” Said Weber about his desire about education and life.

Kam Silvers
Kam Silvers

Sophomore OL/DL Kameron Silvers is one of rare younger Riverhawks starting on the offensive line. A sophomore who plays on the line next to Chandler Newell and Braylon Hanson.

Kameron Silvers isn’t your typical sophomore. He is a starter for the Chiawana Riverhawks on the offensive line on a very senior heavy, State title contender.

What you may not know if that Silvers is the little Brother of Chiawana alum Jordan Downing and Kameron is an original Tricity Elite member (7th/8th Grade all-star football team in the Tricities). In fact, Kameron Silvers is the 1st ever Captain named for the Tricity Elite and his image is branded on the Elite logo next to the original Captains that were selected. Kameron helped lift the Elite program and since his departure the Tricity Elite has been recognized as one of the very best 7th/8th grade programs in the Western part of the Country.

“The experience that I had playing for the Elite was great. It was a program that really gave me a first hand insight on how highschool football would be. Going into my freshmen season I realized that I had an advantage in skill over most kids on my team, and it showed when I started and was named team Captain. Now that I’m starting on varsity as a sophomore I know I got to keep my head on a swivel. Nothing comes easy and I have to prove myself everyday at practice to keep my spot.” Said Silvers about the journey to varsity.

Kameron has had a lot of help from his team adjusting to this level and he respects all the guidance from his teammates.

“The seniors I have next to me on the line are Chandler Newell and Braylon Hanson are two people who have really guided me along the way the pulled me into the varsity family and make sure I don’t take any days off.” Said Silvers talking about his older peers.

From a personal standpoint Kameron is one of the best leaders I have ever been around. He makes your team better and he has a kind heart. Kameron spent almost his whole offseason helping the new kids that turned out for the Tricity Elite and when his football career is done he will most certainly make an excellent coach.

Joey Zamora
Joey Zamora

Senior Quarterback Joey Zamora has always had a big arm and it showed his sophomore year when he became the varsity starter for Chiawana. In his Junior year he finished with 17TD passes to go along with 5ints. What you may not know is that many of Joey’s receivers were converted running backs and linebackers all asked to step up so even though his Junior stats don’t jump off the screen consider the circumstances.

During the late summer my family and I decided to go to our normal Church service only we would change up our usual schedule and head out to the World of Life Christian center in Pasco. There we encountered a sermon from a Pastor that had everyone standing, clapping and singing. It was almost like a pregame, halftime and victory speech all rolled into one. Come to find out this is Joey Zamora’s Father Joey Zamora Sr. and Joey Jr. has been growing up in the Church as a Preacher’s Son his whole life.

Early this summer while taking registration for a Chris Miller QB camp that was held here in the Tricities, Chris asked me to send him some film on some kids who would be attending. I sent him the Hudl film of Joey Zamora’s junior year and right away Miller was impressed.

“He not only has size but he has good mechanics and watching him in a traditional offense is a breath of fresh air. He looks like he’s division 1 materiel to me.” Said Miller when talking about what he observed on film.

What makes Joey special is not what you see on film, not the fact that he lives in the weight room.

It’s what you don’t see on film, it’s what you don’t hear about, the fact that he helped out in a big back to school outreach program serving about 4,000 people in need. Traveling to Africa helping to feed the poor in the townships, helping the victims in Haiti by sending tents and Christmas gifts.

“It’s truly a life changing experience, when you think life is tough and then go to Africa and see people really struggle it really changes you’re whole prospective about life itself and humbles you. People were living in shacks and mud houses and then we think a bad day at school is the worst day ever. Really makes you think differently about life.” Said Zamora Jr. about the charity work he has done abroad.

These are just some of the stories behind this special group of teammates that have their eye on a special goal: a State Championship.