Last season, Richmond Academy revitalized its football program, making the postseason for the first time since 1995 and finishing with a 7-4 record.
This season, second-year coach Jim Turner hopes to build upon that success and will try to take it one step beyond last year.
The bad thing is, Richmond will have to fill big shoes left by playmakers Muhammad Rashada, Larry Lee, Jahmal Rainey and Davis Beman.
The team will be relatively young, but the good news is solid offensive and defensive lines return to give those younger skill players time to develop.
"We're inexperienced," Turner said. "But we've got some pretty athletic kids. The kids' attitude and the effort has been real good so far."
The offensive line will feature three seniors who either started or saw plenty of playing time last year -- center Brandon Parker, tackle Dusty Shinkle and tight end H.J. Welcher.
A fourth starter, guard Steve Miller, didn't play on the offensive line last season but started at defensive tackle. He could see action on both sides of the ball this year.
However, after the returners on the offensive line, only two other players saw action last year. Flanker John Becton is back for his senior campaign after an injury against Washington County cut short his junior season. Senior Kareem Odom, who played some at running back last season, will handle the fullback duties.
The situation is the same on defense. Welcher will team with junior Patrick Norris, who started at linebacker last season, at defensive end. Meanwhile, senior Paul Davis is back on the defensive line while sophomore Jason Anthony is the lone returning linebacker.
A pair of seniors, Rakin Rashada and Willie Macyk, return at cornerback and free safety respectively, giving the Musketeers experience and speed in the secondary.
Kicker Josh McRae will handle the kicking duties and could be one of the top place kickers in the area.
"We could have a decent football team if everybody plays well," Turner said. "At the same time, we're very thin in some places. We have better athletes than we had last year, I just don't know how good of football players they are."
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