The campaign made by the Trimble County Raiders this year was very impressive in some cases and in others not so much, but we saw a major improvement on the offensive side of the ball as well as a glimpse of a sleeping giant on defense. This year the Raiders erupted on offense scoring 212 points, with only 43 points in 2012 and 66 in 2013. With the offense booming it would need a sturdy defense to back them up and for the most part this held true. The Raiders defense was a strong force in the run game, with exception to the Walton-Verona game and Newport Central Catholic, but lacked in pass defense with too many teams and ultimately what cost them several games as well as position in the playoffs.
The Raiders will be transitioning from a strong front of 13 seniors, 9 on Offense and 8 on Defense, although the future of the Raiders does not look as dark in some areas of replacement as others. The main concerns headed into the 2015-2016 season are pointed at the following positions, QB,RB, OL, DL, LB, and DB.
The Raiders easiest position to replace headed into this year is the back field, replacing Bo Hawkes, Dusty Wyssbrod, and Wyatt Adkins will be the least of Coach Franklins concerns because they have trained 6 very impressive running backs to replace them some being the name of Khris Weaver, Corey Cahill, Tyler Turocey, Robert Harris, Trenton Hall, and Josh Harrison. Harrison, Hall, and Harris look to be the front runners based on their performances in the JV as well as Varsity games.
The Defensive Line will also be an easy fix with, the Raiders ran a 52 monster last year lining up 3 Tackles and 2 Ends, and will have to replace 3 of the 5 up front. The easy fix is really just rotating Corbin Thornsberry into weak-side tackle or possibly the nose-guard, replacing Logan Kunselman the future Hanover Panther, I think the battle will be to replace the strong side tackle, really not a battle both will start but a matter of who will start at what position. The two young men being Joey Robinson and Skylar Jones who were very impressive in both JV and Varsity play, but I believe the transition will be easy as one of them will be replacing David Marsh the future Georgetown Tiger. Both seniors prepared their replacements well. However, replacing Bo Hawkes is a little bit of a challenge. Coach Franklin rotated a lot of different players at the strong side defensive end, and never really could pin a certain player he really stuck with throughout the season, but don’t fear he will find a strong replacement.
The QB may be one of the toughest positions replace, especially the strong leadership qualities of former Quarterback TJ Payton. He was a very effective leader and always consulted others before running a play, some of his greatest plays were the ones he looked like he improvised. The QB battle will be between Tracer Fox and Reese Poe, and if some rumors hold true I believe Cole Wright could possibly be returning to football, so the QB battle will be interesting heading into the regular season.
Another test for Coach Franklin will be replacing his impressive Linebackers Brian Haney and Brady Mahoney who would adjust the defense in a blink of an eye and could flow to the ball very swiftly. The obvious replacement was a vital member in the 53 adjustment Trenton Hall, this young man has a bright future, but the challenge will be filling the other LB. Tyler Turocey saw a lot of action during JV play, but sometimes they rotated Tanner Halegarth also into the mix.
The group that was mixed with youth and veterans was the defensive secondary, and an early injury made them just a little bit younger, but they also made a little bit of a noise when you gave them in an opportunity. The two Seniors, Dusty Wyssbrod and Brand Yowler were very impressive in run support and probably if recorded, had a ton of deflections. Josh Harrison and Corey Cahil are the returning starters as well injured corner Robert Harris. Look for Khris Weaver to make the jump into the starting line up this year.(Secondary is not my strong point of topic)
Offense Line, in my opinion, will be an uphill battle all year long. The Raiders are losing three Seniors on the front line Left Tackle Cade Thornsberry, Right Guard Logan Kunselman, and Right Tackle David Marsh. The Raiders however have two strong juniors up front returning, Joey Robinson-started 11 games- and Tanner Halgarth- started 8 games- and together these guys pulled off some nice blocks, as well as help the Raiders offense boom for a massive amount of yards and points. The replacements of the three seniors will probably be Corbin Thornsberry(Cade’s young brother) and Skylar Jones, but there will be a fight for the final starting position on the OLine between the Senior David McFall-started 3 games last year, Paris Steffin, Christian Wilberdine, and Nathan Stewart. Although we could possibly see a freshmen step up and take the job from the veterans.
Key Players for next year team’s success-
Robert Harris- is an all around solid athlete. He can fill any position on offense and shut down players while he is at corner. Robert has a quick first step, and impressive breaking speed. Robert is a little bit of a silent leader, but when the game is on the line he shows and leads his team. Watch this kid blossom under Coach Franklins system.
Khris Weaver-Was limited on reps in Varsity play on offense, while he did get the opportunity to play some Corner this past season. Khris will need to get stronger and stick to that one cut and go style that Coach Franklin drilled into his head last year. He is a very vocal player, and will need to continue to spread his leadership to his teammates.
Michael Russet- played a strong role on the JV team, playing Safety. He will need to step up and take over the secondary this year with the absence of two seniors. He will need to become a ball hawking Safety this fall.
Joey Robinson- a solid lineman and can play inside or outside wherever his coaches need him. I would rank him on as one of the top lineman in District 5, he could be in the conversation as a really good regional lineman. Joey will most likely step into the leadership role of the OLine as well the DLine. He is special young man with a lot of talent.
Tanner Halgarth- He will be returning at Center, although he may be small he packs a mean little punch. Tanner was effective last year in the offense and created lanes for the guards to pull. He will have to take charge up front and command the OLine during it’s most critical moments. Tanner could see some action at Linebacker.
Trenton Hall- a phenom on defensive and a powerful runner out of the backfield. Look for Trenton to take a step into a leadership role as the season develops
Josh Harrison- A strong runner and new to the defensive back system last year, Josh had a solid season and looks to improve even more headed into his Junior season. Look for the Raiders to lean on this young man a season progresses.
Skylar Jones- This young man is a solid lineman and can play inside or outside wherever his coaches need him. I would rank him on as one of the top lineman in District 5, could be in the conversation as a really good regional lineman.
Reese Poe- this kid is so decisive in the option attack, I watched him destroy KCD and Carroll County JV with his option attack. We could see him win the QB job or grow another in JV. Reese also plays a little LB/DB.
Trimble County decided to revamp their schedule. The Raiders removed Jackson Co., KCD, Bethlehem, and Corbin. I haven’t heard the official schedule but I know these teams were removed/ didn’t want to re-up contracts.
Key’s to Success
Another year in the same offense and defense and 4 year’s of the same Head Coach
Change in strength of schedule
Developing younger players in JV and Freshmen schedule
The Loss of 13 seniors at a small program.
Youth-Seniors were making all the adjustments and directing some of the veterans constantly was my biggest worry.
District was young last year, and now they have experienced players to counteract the Raiders booming success
The team that most people expect to win the district is Walton-Verona do to Coach Barth’s strong Campaign over the past couple of years. So most likely it will be a battle for second place in District 5.
Carroll’s change at Head Coach might take them a year to develop, but Rose is still there and he is one impressive running back.
Gallatin looked strong in their passing attack, and with the departure of Chris Brown the run gain could be a little a slowed down. Gallatin though will still be a strong contender for the #2
seed in the district.
Owen’s team was hit with the injury bug last year, but this year they should be primed and ready to go at the start of this years season. I believe most of their starters are returning, but don’t hold me to that, so we could see them make a run for #2
My prediction for the end of the year standings will be
1. Walton Verona
This season should be an interesting one for all of the teams in the district
I believe in the Raiders, and I think they are going to shock some teams this coming fall.
Their Goals this season should be
Finish in the Top 3 in the district
Make the Playoffs and advance to round 2
Finish the season at least 5-5
Avoid the turnover bug
Just play like Raiders
Good Luck next season Raiders!
(Sorry the top article describes this year’s past team, but didn’t really get a chance to see the younger players in Varsity play.)