Rivera, who led Sequoyah with 12 goals and 16 assists, was voted his team’s Offensive Most Valuable Player, as the Chiefs qualified for the Class AAAAA state playoffs with a 12-5 record.
Sequoyah coach John Zonin doesn’t question Rivera’s skills at all.
“He has been the best player in the county for the last two seasons, hands down,” Zonin said.
This year, Rivera, one of two Sequoyah players named first-team all-Region 7AAAAA, helped take the Chiefs to the next level. Although they were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs with a 2-1 loss to Lithia Springs, getting that far was an accomplishment for a program that had not qualified in the last five years.
“It was a huge change from the other years,” Rivera said. “We planned on it. We trained and we got where we wanted to. It would have been nice to go a little bit further, but we did our best.”
For his effort this season, Rivera is the 2014 Cherokee Tribune Boys Soccer Player of the Year.
Rivera said it’s hard to describe how it felt to help Sequoyah return to contention in Region 7AAAAA.
“You can’t put it into words,” he said. “I’m so proud of all the seniors who graduated. They did a huge part in it. We finally became a team and a family to do everything together.”
Among the seniors Sequoyah will be losing are two more all-county players in Jonathan Guy and Nelson Ferrufino. Rivera said part of what made the Chiefs so successful was their chemistry. Many of the players had known one another since they were in elementary school.
“As soon as we stepped on the field, we just worked together easily,” Rivera said.
Rivera doesn’t know if he will be around to defend his player of the year title next season, as he’s considering trying out for a position on an academy team. If he does that, he would forego his final year of high school to train with some of the top athletes in the country.
But if he does choose to remain at Sequoyah, Rivera already has big plans.
“Hopefully, we can get the state title,” he said. “We want to win the region and get our trophy back from Creekview. It’s personal now. We need to get that trophy back.”
Even though the high school season is over, Rivera won’t be taking a break.
In addition to playing with his club team, he will be going to a couple of camps, including one at Clemson. Last season, Rivera played with Georgia Rush club, but the bulk of that team graduated, leaving him to play with Cherokee Impact this season.
“I want to get exposure to college,” Rivera said. “That is my goal right now.”