Since my own son was a member of the Amsterdam High School football team that won the 1995 New York State Class B Championship, I watched every single down of every game the team played during that amazing season. It was an incredibly balanced squad, masterfully orchestrated by Coach Frank Derrico and his talented staff to overcome two early season losses and play inspiring football, game after game on their road to the title. Though there was no shortage of toughness, talent or heart on that roster there was really only one superstar, the team’s featured back Lester Rivera.
Rivera had a combination of speed and strength that reminded me more than just a little of Justice Smith, the great Amsterdam High and Boston College back. Like Smith, he always seemed to turn his game up a notch against the toughest competition and also when games were on the line. During that State Championship season which was Rivera’s senior year, he rushed for close to 1,200 yards and had his three best games during the team’s playoff run.
His teammates absolutely loved Lester. He had a warm friendly personality and a smooth confidence that made him fun to be around and a natural leader. He never got a big head and he always wore that patented Lester Rivera smile.
I wish he had the opportunity to play in college but…