Coach Everett Blakely barks out, "Come on push yourself. Let's have a little toughness this morning." That the new work ethic that the second year head coach at Rickards High School is trying to sell his players and it would seem they are buying into his motto pf hard work..
Coach Blakely says, "We had a great off-season started in November with weightlifting and we had a great summer session. I feel we've done what football players need to do to succeed."
The raiders return 3 starters on offense including a pair of dynamic tailbacks. Donte Payne led the team in rushing with 725 yards and 8 touchdowns. Coach Blakely says "He didn't have the best line last year but they're getting better and he's much stronger than when he was a sophomore" Payne says "I think we're going to have a pretty good year. We did lot of work in the off-season. I think we'll have a good season."
A new quarterback steps under center to run the offense. Junior Greg Farmer takes over the reigns. Coach Blakely says, "He's (Farmer) only run my offense. I think with some game experience he'll be a good quarterback."
Meanwhile, the strength of this team resides in the defensive secondary with senior Kevin Green and junior Jujuan Harley.
Green is being looked at by several D-1 schools after picking off four passes and breaking up six others in 2006. Green says he tries to be a vocal leader on the field but prefers to lead by example.
Coach Blakely says, "Right now our defense is ahead of our offense. Hopefully they can carry us through the 2nd or 3rd game until the offense comes around."
Hopes are high for a district championship but the Raiders face a daunting schedule that includes such non-district powerhouses as Lincoln, Bainbridge and the Baby Rattlers of FAMU High.
If Rickards can post their first winning record since 1998, then these players know they got down and dirty in 2007.