Riverside High School has fielded a losing football program for the last three years. The last time the Pirates went to the playoffs was 2014 when Cory Lea was the offensive coordinator of the squad. He left to become the head coach of another local high school football program, Northern Vance. Lea returned to Riverside in 2017, this time as the head coach. He preached hard work, focus and love in an effort to change the culture and turn the program around. The season started off in historic fashion as Riverside started 3-0 for the first time in nearly a decade. The season only went downhill from there as the team began to lose close game after close game with major injuries at key positions bringing them down. Riverside just couldn’t recover. In a must win scenario on Senior Night against a less talented Cary team, Riverside gave up back to back onside kicks and fumbled on a last ditch drive to win. The morale was shattered leaving Coach Lea and the underclassmen to pick up the pieces. After the last game of the season, Coach Lea promised his seniors that when they "come back to campus, they can wear Riverside gear and be proud of the team on the field." That promise was fulfilled only a season later when Lea led the Pirates to an unprecedented 7-3 season and set them up with a chance to claim the program's first conference championship in 16 years in the final game of the season.