Richmond Academy strong on defensive line and special teams

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Richmond Academy coach Chris Hughes during practice.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN
MICHAEL HOLAHAN
Richmond Academy coach Chris Hughes during practice.

Richmond Academy knows what it has at one spot each on the defensive line and on special teams.

The next step is surrounding its two best players with the talent to produce a winning season.

The Musketeers will be led by senior defensive lineman Willie Yarbary, a 6-foot-3 physical specimen who coach Chris Hughes said will be shifted around to get the most out of his ability.

“He’s a special player,” Hughes said. “He has perfect technique, uses his hands. He’s one of the strongest players we’ve had here. He can do it all.”

Hughes said Yarbary, who already has 18 college offers, will move between defensive end and tackle, as well as middle linebacker, according to the opposition’s tendencies. The 270-pound Yarbary has the versatility and athleticism to play multiple positions.

But Hughes acknowledged the Musketeers must play well around Yarbary to field a winning team. Richmond Academy lost 24 seniors from a 2012 squad that finished 5-5 for the second consecutive season. Hughes said some younger, less experienced players are filling holes.

“We’ve got some quality seniors this year, we just don’t have that many,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of young kids playing a lot of spots, and they’re getting better. We hope that if we can improve and gel by region play, we should be OK.”

On special teams, a tradition of producing solid kickers at Richmond Academy continues with junior Gardner Duckworth, who is ranked nationally at the position.

“We’re real strong in special teams,” Hughes said. “We typically have one of the best kickers around. We’ve got another real good one. We feel like if we can be competitive in other parts of the game, then we can win a game on special teams, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Athletic junior Tony Daggett will start at quarterback. Daggett started the last four games of 2012, but is still gaining experience at the position.

Senior Zach Mitchell will move from linebacker to fullback for his first season at the position. Hughes said he will run the tailback position by committee. He plans to play four backs with no varsity experience between them.

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