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Raiders football ready for jamboree

August 10, 2011

The season doesn't officially get under way for another week, but Oak Hill Academy will get their first taste of competition Thursday afternoon when they play in the Heritage Academy Jamboree in Columbus.

The Raiders have been working tirelessly under new head coach Benjie Merchant for the last two weeks, getting in shape while understanding the playbook. Merchant says the boys are ready to hit somebody else instead of themselves.

"Yea, I think we're ready to go," he said. "I just don't know how much will power we have, but we'll find out after Thursday."

The Raiders open up against Bessemer Academy (Ala.) and then play Tuscaloosa Christian, two teams they are unfamiliar with which makes it hard to prepare for.

Bessemer is a power in the Alabama Independent Schools Association, finishing 11-1 last season and falling in the second round of the AAA state championship. Tuscaloosa Christian finished 9-1 on their way to the 8-man championship.

Merchant says the players haven't gotten to deep into the playbook just yet. He wants to get the comfortable running the easy plays.

"It's going to be simple starting out," he said. "We're just brushing the service of what eventually we want to do, especially on offense. We have to get solid in our base stuff before we can get into the other stuff."

The first year coach did say that the defense did have some question marks. Mechant said he's a defensive minded coach and for the Raiders to be successful, they have to control the clock.

"We feel like we're going to be able to run the ball a little bit, but the verdict is still out on defense," he said. "I think we're going to be decent at, it's just going to take time to find out what kind of program we have."

The Raiders will still run the two quarterback system as planned with Jeb Stevens and Conner Baird. However there will be no set number of plays each will run, just rotated as needed.

The jamboree kicks off at 5:30.

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