Harding learns from down year
Raiders to rely on Adams to rebound from 2-win 2017
By BOB ETTINGER
Looking strictly at the numbers, nothing good can come from a seven-loss season. That’s not true, however, in the eyes of Warren G. Harding football coach Steve Arnold, who understands just where the Raiders’ program has been and where it is headed.
“After two consecutive years in the playoffs, last year was a down year,” Arnold said. “We plan on playing in Week 11. There’s a process to that. There’s a process to get there. It started back in January with offseason workouts.”
What the Raiders lost — 33 seniors — from a team that played in the regional tournament and the 2-7 campaign that resulted is now an asset.
“As adults, we know experience is the best teacher,” Arnold said. “Until you go through something, I don’t care if it’s football, basketball or the game of life, you don’t know how to get it done. Once you go through it, you know how. Going 2-7 is, obviously, not our standard, but once the guys through that ordeal, they have the opportunity to learn from it.”
Among the most experienced of the Raiders is an offensive front and a well-known running back. Those five seniors in the trenches will open the way for Kayron Adams to lead the offense.
“We have experience on the offensive line with five seniors and one of the best tailbacks in the state,” Arnold said. “I think it would be foolish not to build the offense round that. We have a 1,300-yard rusher and an experienced offensive line. There’s cohesion there. We’ll build the offense from there.”
Under center, Harding is lacking in experience with Elijah Taylor taking over. He’ll be backed up by Isaiah Hackett and Brandon Arnold.
“We have two or three inexperienced quarterbacks, so we don’t want to throw the ball all over the place,” Arnold said. “An inexperienced quarterback’s best friend is an offensive line and a running back.”
Cameren King will be the fullback with Elijah Smith and Kasen Lewis providing the change of pace.
Isaiah Cayson, Ja’Kari Salter and Bill McCready will play the tight end positions with Cayson, Jeremy Wilson and Alex Payiavlas manning the receiver slots.
“We’re going to be able to throw the ball, but we’re not going to live with just throwing the ball,” Arnold said. “Our quarterbacks can throw it and we have capable receivers, but we’re not going to put (the quarterbacks) in position to zing it for four quarters.”
That offensive front will include center Jarrett Lenney, guards Simahjay Warfield and Jaquahn McIntosh and tackles Evan Morgan and Maurice Moore. Brandon Peterson, Jarriel White and Austin Gayhart will provide the depth.
Arnold is changing it up a bit on the defensive side of the ball in 2018 in hopes of forcing more offensive mistakes.
“We have an aggressive style we’re implementing this year,” Arnold said. “The guys have bought in. It fits our personality. We’re getting away from the bend-but-don’t-break defense. We might be gashed at times, but we hope that we’ll force some attrition over four quarters and that we’ll be OK.”
The ends will be McCready, White, Cayson and Jared Zillinger. McIntosh and Moore are the tackles.
Adams will lead a linebacking corps that includes King, Jasier Graham and Payiavlas.
The safeties will include Lewis and Chris Chew while Tomarios Davis-Sledge, Hackett and Jordan Brantley will be the corners.
Mike Clauss will handle the kicking duties with Cavin Stouffer and Brandon Arnold doing the punting.