Richmond Academy recovered from a slow start but lost in the region playoffs and missed a state postseason appearance for the first time since 2007.
“It was pretty unexpected,” Welcher said. “It just caught everybody off guard.”
After making three consecutive playoff appearances from 2008-10, Richmond Academy is looking to make another run at the playoffs this season. Senior lineman Will Jones said there’s been a bigger commitment in the weight room in the offseason, with 40 players committing to getting bigger and stronger. The Musketeers will learn if their extra work has paid off when they open at home against Evans and Statesboro the first two weeks of the season.
“We know Evans has a good team. We know Statesboro has a pretty good team,” Jones said. “We’re just excited to see what we’re made of.”
Richmond Academy has the largest roster in the county with 94 players. The team should have plenty of experience, with 27 seniors and seven returning starters on each side of the ball.
On offense, the Musketeers return their leading rusher (Welcher) and leading receiver Tre Lambert, along with Jones anchoring the left side of the line.
On defense, a pair of juniors are expected to make some noise this season. Defensive end/tackle Willie Yarbary (6-2, 250) and junior cornerback Travis Beatty will be looked upon to help improve a defense that allowed 26 or more points in six games last season.
Last year, the Musketeers finished second in their sub-region, but they failed to make postseason play after being routed by Butler in their region playoff showdown. Richmond Academy coach Chris Hughes said that defeat has served as motivation heading into this year.
“The one thing that shocked us was the way we lost the Butler game,” he said. “We came out the first quarter and took it to Butler. From there, they beat our brains in. Our guys were chomping at the bit to get back on the field because they were disappointed with the way Butler beat up on us.”