New Hampshire Football Report

Yukica Profile: Ismael Rivera

NOTE: The 2020 Joe Yukica New Hampshire Chapter of the National Football Foundation Scholar/Athlete banquet was cancelled this year because of COVID-19. Each Scholar/Athlete will be recognized with a commemorative program, a plaque and a personal profile that will appear in the program, on the New Hampshire Football Report, the Joe Yukica/New Hampshire Chapter web site ( and the Joe Yukica/New Hampshire Chapter Facebook page. This is one in a series of 39 profiles. Once published, each profile can be accessed by clicking on the athlete’s name at the bottom of the page.

Bishop Brady High School

Ismael Rivera isn’t big in stature — he’s listed at 5-foot-4 and 145 pounds — but he was a big part of the Bishop Brady High School football team’s success last season.

Used as a running back during his junior year, Rivera seemed to flourish after he was moved to wide receiver last fall, when he caught 26 passes for 399 yards and three touchdowns and also ran for a TD to help the Green Giants earn the No. 4 seed for the Division IV playoffs.

“Him not being the biggest body, he took a lot of punishment that year we had him at running back,” said former Bishop Brady coach Jermaine McKenzie, who resigned in May to accept a coaching position in Massachusetts.  “We wanted to get him out in space a little more — throw him some screen passes and use him on Jet Sweeps. I think he excelled in that position.”

Rivera, a three-sport athlete, was also a Second Team All-State selection as a cornerback. He was a two-year captain in football, and was also captain of the varsity basketball team as a senior. In addition, he played baseball for Bishop Brady.

Away from athletics Rivera was a National Honor Society member and served as an officer with the school’s Student/Athlete Leadership Team (SALT).

It all added up to Rivera being selected as a 2020 Scholar/Athlete by the Joe Yukica New Hampshire Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame.

“Although small in appearance, he is truly a Giant at heart,” Bishop Brady athletic director Annie Mattarazzo wrote when she recommended Rivera for the Scholar/Athlete award. “He plays big, invests full effort all the time and is an amazingly supportive teammate and friend.”

“He’s one of those guys who leads by example,” McKenzie added. “When he speaks people know he’s speaking for a reason. He doesn’t talk just to talk.

“He comes from a family that is big on academics. Grades first and athletics after that. He’s a very smart kid, but I don’t want to say academics come easy to him. I think his grades come from the work ethic that’s been instilled in him. He completely understands that academics are his future.”

McKenzie called Rivera a fierce competitor who was very dedicated to the team.

“He’s his worst critic,” McKenzie said. “At times he’s a little hard on himself because he wants to be perfect in everything he does — or come as close to it as he can. By far one of the toughest kids we’ve had.”

Q and A with Ismael Rivera

Q: Please describe the most memorable moment of your high school football career. 

A: The most memorable moment of my high school football career would have to be my senior night. Since we were the No. 4 seed in the playoffs, it was my last game at Memorial Field. It was at this point when I realized how much I would miss playing football, especially on that field. I’ve learned and improved so much over the four years I was able to play. I went from not playing a single snap to never coming off the field. My goal for the game was to win my last home football game ever and score my last touchdown where I scored my first one. I was able to achieve both of these, winning the game in blowout fashion and scoring my longest touchdown run in my four years. It was truly a moment I will never forget. 

Q: Tell us about someone who has had a significant influence on your life.

A: Someone who has had a significant influence on my life is my dad. My dad has coached me in every sport and has pushed me like no one else has. At times I would get irritated with him, but he always knew how to bring out the best in me. He would make sure I never went half speed, but always gave everything I got every time I was on the field or court. He taught me that nothing is given to me, but earned through hard work and practice. I know I wouldn’t be the athlete or person I am today without him. 

Q: What is your favorite subject in school and why? 

A: My favorite school subject these past three years has been wellness. Even though I took wellness only my junior year, I would join the class during my free periods of sophomore and senior year. Learning about our bodies and our health really interested me. Also more than anything, I love playing games. In the class, we were able to compete against our classmates in new games we learned in each class. 

Q: What life lessons have you learned from football?

A: One lesson I learned from football is the importance of putting the team’s needs over your own. In order for the team to be successful, everyone needs to do their job. Therefore, doing what your coach tells you and what the team needs you to do is more important what an individual wants to do. This requires trust in your coach and in your team. This overlying theme relates to family life. Family requires trust, selflessness, and respect. I have learned to really trust my family and even put their needs over mine sometimes for the best of everyone. These are lessons that I hope to carry on to my own family one day. 

Q: What is your dream job?

A: I’ve never really planned a dream job for my life. I hope to find something I really enjoy in college and maybe pursue it in the future. I just want to make the most of whatever job I end up with. As long as I can provide for my family, then it will be enough.   


2020 Scholar/Athletes: Keith Albergo (Winnacunnet), Thatcher Allen (Exeter), Cole Ames (Lebanon)Mason Belsky (Windham), Patrick Brust (Bishop Brady)Jaedon Cliche (Exeter), Riley Desmarais (Windham), Bobby DiCicco (Windham), Jared Dyer (Merrimack), Casey Gladu (Portsmouth), Owen Gormley (Salem), Jack Grogan (Bedford), Steven Guerette (Bow)Evan Haskins (Pelham), Samson Hodges (Milford), Ethan Holt (Bishop Guertin), Jack Jones (Bedford), Charlie Kneissl-Williams (Bedford), Hunter Lassard (St. Thomas), Joseph Lupo (Bishop Guertin), Jake MacInnis (Pinkerton)Braden McDonnell (Nashua South), Will MacLean (St. Thomas), Hayden Moses (Bishop Guertin), Riley Mulvey (Salem), Kyle O’Connor (Nashua South), Nolan Pafford (Portsmouth), Wade Rainey (Lebanon), Ismael Rivera (Bishop Brady), Oceanne Skoog (Newfound), Caleb Smith (Lebanon), Rolando Sylvain-Stott (Newfound), John Thibault (Trinity), Zach Twardosky (Merrimack), Gavin Urda (Milford), Carter Vedrani (Campbell), Jacob Wenger (Trinity), Jon Willeman (Lebanon) and Devin Wood (Merrimack).

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