By Bryan Davis
Daily Times Leader
The last time the Oak Hill Academy Raiders won in their opening week was in 2006, a 19-0 win over Lamar.
Six years and a number of head coaches later, and the Raiders 1-0 once again.
More important to the Raiders, Friday night’s 13-6 non-conference win over Newton County Academy put them back in the win column for the first time since 2010. The Raiders did not win a game in 2011.
For head coach Daniel Merchant, this makes him 1-0 as a skipper.
“It’s a feeling I can’t describe,” Merchant said after the game on Friday night before turning the attention back to his players. “We practiced hard ever since we started two-a-days, and it paid off.”
Merchant is a native of Alabama who grew up playing football and baseball. He said that he always knew he wanted to be a coach.
It was quite a journey for Merchant to become a head coach.
He started out in his hometown of Sulligent, working as an assistant coach there about five years ago.
A graduate of the Mississippi University for Women, Merchant ended up coaching fittingly with Bubba Davis at Immanuel. Davis was a longtime and successful coach at West Point High School.
On Friday night, Merchant found himself in front of a packed visitor’s section in Decatur, all eyes on the young coach and his hard-hitting team of Raiders.
A year ago Oak Hill fell to the General 18-7 in week one.
Friday night, however, was a different story all around for the Raiders, and the coaching of Merchant and his assistants played a huge role in that difference.
Merchant will have seven days to prepare his team for Winston Academy, a home conference game in which a victory could be the start to a playoff run for the Raiders.
For now though, Merchant and Oak Hill are 1-0, and they will enjoy that this week.