By David Grimes Thursday, August 23 2012 00:00
It came down to the final game of the season between Giles and Radford to determine the Three Rivers District regular season title last year and the same is expected this season, as the Bobcats return 13 players in hopes of bringing home the district crown in 2012.
The Bobcats, who finished second in the district with a 4-1 mark, fell 21-17 in the regular season finale to the Spartans, who came into the game at 4-0, after holding a 17-7 lead after three quarters. Radford then whipped Thomas Walker 45-6 in the first round of the Region C, Division 1 playoffs before falling 22-10 to George Wythe in the second round of the playoffs to end their season at 8-4 overall.
Returning to the gridiron this season are Hunter Marshall (QB/LB), RJ Jordan (WR/DB), William Minter (Slot/DB), D'Andre Cook (Slot/DB), Caleb Findley (K), Isiah Carter (FB/LB), Eric Benitez (OL/LB), Nate Jones (OL/DL), Sean Smith (OL/DL), Tyreek Stewart (OL/DL), Jordan Wesley (OL/DL), Kenny McPeak (OL/DL), and Cody Morgan (OL/DL).
Marshall, who was an all-district first team selection, plus being named to all-region honorable mention squad last season, will return at the quarterback position this fall.
Coming out of the backfield will be Minter, an all-district first team selection, Marcus Finley, Cook, Jordan, an all-district honorable mention selection in 2011 and Carter.
Benitez, an all-district second team player, along with Jones, Smith, Stewart, Wesley, McPeak and Morgan, also an all-district second team selection, will man the offensive line, as several younger players are also looking to get some playing time on the line.
Findley, a second team selection, will handle the kicking duties once again.
Offensively, Radford returns five starters. "We have good team speed and excellent skill players, as far as our offensive strengths go," said head coach Matthew Saunders. "We need to improve on the offensive line."
The Bobcats averaged 24.4 points per game last season and their biggest offensive explosion was when they outscored fellow-district foe East Mont, 57-0.
On the defensive side, the Cats return six starters. "We are strong at the defensive backs and linebacker positions, plus we're very fast," noted Saunders. "However, we need to improve on the defensive line."
Jordan, Minter and Cook are returning to the defensive backfield. Marshall, Carter and Benitez will handle the linebacker positions.
The d-line will consist of Jones, Smith, Stewart, Wesley and Morgan. Several younger players have also been seeing some reps on the line and could would their way into the starting lineup.
Radford plans to run a 4-3 defense with a 4-deep look.
In their first scrimmage of the season against Rural Retreat and Carroll County, the Cats finished both games in a 0-0 tie. In the scrimmage Coach Saunders saw some things that he liked and some items of concern.
Radford gave up an average of 14.3 points per game.
As for the top game of the season, "The next one on the schedule," added Saunders.
According to MaxPreps, three of the Bobcats toughest regular season opponents will be Galax (23.4), who fell 33-28 to Clintwood in the Group A, Division 1 state semifinals, Giles (21.3), the defending TRD champs, and George Wythe (13.3).
What can the Radford faithful expect this season? "We will compete for the district title and make a run in the playoffs," said Saunders.
The Bobcats open their season this Friday night at Pulaski County in the “Battle of the Bridge.” Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.
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