By BEN JOHNSON
A nagging foot injury bothered Wesley Rivas all throughout Tahlequah’s football season. It, however, didn’t keep him from earning high praise from his coach in 2013.
“He’s the most dominant defensive lineman we’ve had since I’ve been at Tahlequah,” Tahlequah head coach Brad Gilbert said. “It’s a shame for him to get hurt. He was out from the last half of the Coweta game (on Oct. 11) until the Collinsville game (Nov. 8). He was able to come back but not at full strength.”
Rivas played in just over half of Tahlequah’s games and was limited to 41 tackles during the Tigers’ 1-9 campaign. But that also didn’t stop him from signing a letter of intent to play college football on Wednesday.
Rivas, a 6-foot-2, 265-pound defensive tackle, signed with William Penn University, an NAIA school in Iowa.
“It feels good,” Rivas said. “It’s something that I wanted to accomplish in life and I did.”
It’s the second straight year that a Tahlequah football player has signed with an NAIA school in Iowa. Tyler Eisensmith inked with Northwestern College in 2013.
Rivas did admit that his options were limited in terms of college destinations.
“William Penn is the only school that really offered a scholarship,” Rivas said. “I like how the program works, plus they have been winning and that’s what I want — a team that wins.”
When asked if his foot was completely healed up, Rivas said there’s no longer an issue with it.
“My foot is better,” he said. “This injury won’t stop me from playing football.”
Rivas also mentioned that his dream of playing college football is possible because of two people in his life.
“I want to give a thank you to my coach Keith Wilson, for teaching me how to become a better player and a person on the field and off the fields,” Rivas said. “And also a special thank you to my mom who was there for me through rough times, and she is the reason why I stand here today as a man. This scholarship is my repay back to my mother.”