First year head coach Benjie Merchant will lead the Raiders against one of the best teams in MAIS Class Newton County.
But Merchant says the boys are really excited to finally get going after showing improvement everyday throughout the summer and fall practices.
“There’s been progress as far as instilling the basis of the program in what we’re going to do,” he said. “We still have a long way to go.”
Merchant is on the first level of trying to rebuild a program that has fallen on hard times over the years, including the last two seasons where they have won a combined six games.
Oak Hill hasn’t won a state championship since 1990.
However despite progress, the Raiders have had injuries in key spots this season including at quarterback. Conner Baird will take over as the number one after the loss of Jeb Stevens. Merchant had planned to use both signal callers, but says he’s comfortable with having Baird in there to get the job done.
The Raiders biggest offensive weapon will be in the backfield which consists of five possible running backs to choose from. Oak Hill will have to be carried on the offensive line.
“What makes it hard right now is that they’re still learning the concepts on top of being dead tired by the third quarter,” Merchant said. “We got to keep pushing them and giving them a positive attitude.”
The Raiders defense will be matched up against one of the top running back ins all of the MAIS; Dillion Williams, who rushed for almost 2,000 yards and 29 touchdowns last season.
Oak Hill though has confidence in their defense first approach led by several seniors including line backers Reid Posey and Chance Livingston.
With eight seniors sprinkled into the lineup, several expected to play both sides of the ball, conditioning will be crucial if the Raiders hope to get a season opening victory.
A win tonight would give them momentum going into their first district clash of the season against Winston in week two.
With a realignment in place and the addition of two new teams, the Raiders will be hoping to be one of three teams that move on to the postseason come November.
The Raiders won’t return home until September 9 when they meet Manchester Academy in a must-win for both teams.
Kick-off is set for 7:30 in West Point.View more articles in: