Raiders kick off season with scrimmage Friday night

“As young as we are, mistakes are gonna happen. Learn from it and move on,” Head Coach Kris White tells players Wednesday afternoon as Coach Christian, Coach Buchanan, and Coach Morey look on. (A Lynchburg Times Photo)

LOCAL SPORTS NEWS — It’s Wednesday afternoon around five and the Raider coaching staff is … we’ll let say animated. The time for drills and half speed practice is passed. Today the Raider rubber is starting to meet the road and the coaches are looking for some intensity.

“I’m not gonna be out here with you on Friday night,” Head Coach Kris White yells. “These coaches won’t be out there with you. Take some ownership guys.”

As the practice winds down, Coach White tells the young squad to expect some mistakes.

“As young as we are, mistakes are gonna happen. You may be a junior or senior but you haven’t been in a lot of games. Learn from it and move on.”

Young at skill positions; experienced line

It’s no secret to any Raider fan that Moore County lost a squad filled with talent last year including a two Mr. Football nominees and a Blue Grey All American. Only one lone player on the 2021-22 Raiders has more than 13 games of real varsity experience but there are some strengths.

“The line is the most experienced group that that we have,” says Coach Kris White. “We’ve got a senior and a sophomore that started last year as a freshman and an eight grader who started nine games last year. They’ve played and they’ve been through it.”

Assistant Coach T.J. Christian says the Raider line is the most experienced part of this year’s team but they’re still very young.

“From left to right, we have a freshman, senior, sophomore, freshman, and sophomore but they’ve been working hard,” he says. “They’ve put in extra work over the summer and done all they can do.”

In our skill positions, the Raiders only return one player, sophomore Dawson White, who played running back and free safety in 2020. Raider QB One and Mr. Football nominee Kyler Parker will attend Volunteer State this fall. Assistant Coach Wes Black says their still some competition happening for the Moore County starting quarterback slot this year.

“There’s some good competition happening right now between Keller Morey and Connor Partin,” he says.

Another big loss from last year will be Moore County’s money-in-the-bank kicker Chase Bradford who went 51 of 57 in PATs through his Moore County career including a 29 of 30 record his junior year.

“Good thing they make two Bradford’s,” says Assistant Coach Manny Buchanan. “Blake Bradford is stepping in. He’s worked really hard all summer. He’s the frontrunner but Payton Martin is giving him some good competition right now.”

Steep competition in Class A this year

Scuttlebutt around the area is that Class 1A, especially the West Division, will offer some steep competition this season.

“Fayetteville City will be picked to win it preseason just like Peabody is. They are both on our side of the bracket this year,” says Coach White. “In our region, with Wayne County, Collinwood, and Eagleville moving in, it got a little tougher.”

There’s also considerable pre-season buzz about Cornersville out of Marshall County. Message board say that this year’s Bulldog team is a strong group that have played together since flag division and their time may have come.

But Moore County also boasts close knit group of former junior varsity players who have tasted success.

“The kids who were on JV last year who are coming up have experienced a lot of success across several sports,” says JV Head Coach and Varsity Assistant Coach Manny Buchanan. “I think that’s a really understated thing about that group of players because they’re used to winning and that translates on the field.”

In recent years, Moore County has developed more cross sport athletes. Just this past athletic season, senior Kaden White earned all state in football, wrestling, and baseball. It’s a trend that’s helping raise the level of all program, according to Coach Buchanan.

“If you look at most Hall of Fame athletes, they played across several sports,” he says. “We’re all for it. It makes you better and gives you a bigger skill set.”

“Better than people think.”

With Cheshire Cat-like grins, the Raiders coaching staff hints that despite their youth, this team might surprise you.

“I think we’re going to run the ball and pass the ball a lot better than people think,” says Assistant Coach Randy Morey. “Our offense is going to better than people think.”

Another surprise this year will be a talented freshman linebacker.

“We got a freshman linebacker who is going to be a lot better than people believe,” says Coach Christian. “He’s really stepped up. He had a great summer camp and worked hard.”

As summer practice winds down and game time approaches, Coach White says the team is starting to get that competitive edge.

“The negative to having such a close knit group is they don’t want to embarrass each other out here. They don’t want to beat their buddy,” Coach White says. “Slowly they’re realizing at practice that they’ve gotta be competitive and hit someone but once practice is over we’re best friends again.”

In the end, Coach White says this year’s Raider squad worked hard over the summer, especially in the weight room and he expects that work to show up on the field.

“As a whole, we’re a lot stronger as a team than we were last year.”

The Raiders will scrimmage against Richland and Grace Christian Academy out of Franklin on Friday at Doug Price Field. Kick off should be at 6 p.m. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}