Raiders, Ravens to clash for first time
by By Shawn Stinson
ROCKINGHAM — Rocky River coach Jason Fowler knows a little about bringing a team into Raider Stadium and trying to pull out a victory.
As a member of the coaching staffs at Olympic and East Mecklenburg, Fowler is winless in two visits to Rockingham. The Raiders blanked the Trojans 58-0 in the 2000 state playoffs and seven years later edged the Eagles 19-13 in overtime.
“When I saw they were looking for a game I got with my athletic director,” Fowler said. “It’s an awesome place to play. I want my kids to see what a program should be and what we are trying to do here.”
While Fowler envies the success Richmond has enjoyed with seven state titles and 430 wins as it enters its 42nd season, he wants to get on the right side of the scoreboard tonight.
The Ravens return 16 starters from last season’s 7-5 team, which was eliminated in the first round of the 4AA state playoffs by Page.
Fowler believes the strength of his squad will be its defense, led by team captain Lamar Hood, “the heart and soul” of the unit. Fowler said he has 12 players he can substitute freely on the defensive line to try to keep the Richmond running attack in check.
Richmond coach Paul Hoggard agreed with his counterpart’s analysis.
“They are big up front on defense and fast everywhere else,” Hoggard said. “They are going to be an experienced bunch because some of their guys have been starting since they were sophomores.”
Hoggard added Rocky River will give is offense different looks on defense, but will do one thing out of each formation — bring pressure. That concerns Hoggard because his offensive line has two returning starters.
“That’s going to be a challenge for us in the first game seeing that type of defense,” Hoggard said. “The biggest thing is we have to figure out who has the quarterback, who has the dive and who has the pitch. We will have to see what they are doing and make adjustments.”
Fowler said offensively he tries to maintain a balance between the run and pass. Naiil Ramadan, who was the quarterback at West Charlotte last season, won a two-man battle for the starting job at Rocky River.
Deron Davis, an all-conference pick last year, is expected to be the featured back against the Raiders, but Fowler added he will also utilize other runners during the course of the game, including Elijah Jett.
“We use multiple offenses, we don’t like to put ourselves in the corner,” Fowler said. “It will really depend on our game plan on what we will do.”
In the scrimmage against Statesville, Richmond defensive coordinator Mark Arthur said Rocky River showcased its running game out of the spread as well as a two-tight end set.
“Their quarterback seems to be a little better runner than thrower,” Richmond defensive coordinator Mark Arthur said of Ramadan. “The big thing with that is we need to play assignment football. There are guys who are assigned to the quarterback every play. If they keep their assignment, we should be in a position to make the play.
“They will throw the ball down the field and take their chances. They will try to isolate their wide receivers against you.”
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @scgolfer.
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