Countdown to kickoff: Richland

Posted Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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District 4-5A

Head coach: Ged Kates

Last season: 2-8 (0-7 in district), did not qualify for playoffs

Key players: QB Brandon Maine (5-10, 185); RB C.J. Hicks (5-8, 155), Stephon Jackson (5-7, 140); TE Ivan Maysonet (5-11, 275); OL Sammy Veqiraj (6-4, 325); DL Tanner Moss (6-2, 220); DE Cody Muenzberg (6-3, 220); S Carter Barke (6-0, 167), Adrien Itoka (6-0, 165); WR Jordan Whitfield (5-11, 177); OLB Hayden Davidson (6-0, 203) Ryan Ward, (6-1, 186); ILB Tae’saen Fraser (5-10, 175)

The big picture: The first season as Richland’s head coach wasn’t a pleasant homecoming for alumnus Ged Kates. The Rebels picked up two wins early, but were winless in a competitive District 4-5A. But for Kates and Richland in 2013, what didn’t kill them may make them stronger. Richland’s defense returns nine starters, the offense five. The offense will return leadership and playmaking ability in QB Brandon Maine. Kates refers to Maine as a “gamer” and a multi-sport athlete who has many intangibles. The backfield will be all new, but the source of much excitement at Richland. The RB position is being restocked with some of Richland’s most talented backs in juniors C.J. Hicks and Stephon Jackson. Helping clear the way for the backs will be linemen Tanner Moss, Sammy Veqiraj and Ivan Maysonet at tight end. Jordan Whitfield, the leading receiver for Richland, is explosive and understands the Rebels’ system. Defensively, Richland should be able to plug in a few new faces at cornerback and inside linebacker and maybe change the outcome of some close losses last year, including 24-21 to Keller Central and 28-21 to Fossil Ridge. The secondary should be solid against the pass, offer support against the run and overall be more physical. Safeties Carter Barke and Adrien Itoka return for Richland, while outside linebackers Hayden Davidson and Ryan Ward and inside linebacker Tae’saen Fraser give the defense strength and versatility as pass rushers who can also drop into coverage. Defensive endsTanner Moss and Cody Muenzberg also return.

Quotable: “I’m certainly optimistic. Now in my second year [at Richland], the first couple of practices the kids know what to do and how we do things. We’ve gone from a coach-driven team to a player-driven team.” — Coach Ged Kates

“I got my first start as a sophomore playing against Trinity. I got my taste of getting it handed to me. Now, we’ve got a good, strong offensive line to give me time in the pocket.” — QB Brandon Maine

Notable: Coming back to coach at his alma mater, Kates said he has brought back some “old school mat drills” and another retro tradition, the white helmets and gray face masks. The Rebel flag has been replaced with the logo “R.” ... Richland hopes to make its first playoff appearance since 2009.

— Randy Sachs

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