Riverdale coach Ron Aydelott must replace six starters on both sides of the ball in 2013.
And while that task would be hard enough without having to deal with a declining number of players, the coach must also cope with a roster of just 61 players in mid-August.
“With all the rezoning, our numbers are way down,” he said. “We’re way too inconsistent and we don’t have any leaders.
“I don’t know what our identity is. If we make the playoffs, we’ll have come a long way with this group.”
Aydelott may not know what this year’s team identity will be, he does know it will feature a Wing-T offense again in 2013.
The coach must start by replacing a three-starter at quarterback in Dillon Woodruff.
The quarterback battle has been the toughest to gauge in all of District 7-AAA.
Aydelott has not tipped his hand on who will be the starter. It could be junior Chanton Pace, sophomore Marquis Cantrell or freshman Marquel Odom.
“One will look good one day and then the other will look better the next day,” Aydelott said. “We don’t have any consistency. We’ve got to be able to find that.”
Three of the most important pieces behind whoever the quarterback turns out to be will be senior Mariko Odom, junior Austin McGrone and sophomore Artavious Collier .
Mariko Odom averaged a staggering 14.2 yards per rush on 41 attempts last season and scored eight touchdowns. He also averaged 16.7 yards per catch on 18 catches in 2012.
Running back Mic’kal Ladd, running back Ken Collins and fullback Austin Bryant will see time in the backfield for the Warriors, while Ryland Douglas and Brycin Golden and are also expected to run the ball too.
Junior Jalen Baker will start at tight end senior Tad Onwu is slated to started at split end.
“Experience will be our weakness,” Aydelott said. “We need to find some guys that want to get better.”
Tackle Jack Mitchell and guard Kyle Blevens will anchor the offensive line. Both are seniors.
Travis Martin, who Aydelott said has college-level potential, will start at right tackle.
Sophomore Seth Black will start at right guard.
The Warriors lost defensive tackle Rakias Ivy for the season to a knee injury in early August, making Aydelott’s defense even thinner than it already was.
“That was big loss for us,” Aydelott said. “We’re just so young this year, it’s hard to tell how it’s all going to shake out.
Senior Luke Blackburn will step in for Ivy at defensive tackle and will play between defensive ends Ethan Aurand, a junior, and Martin in the team’s 3-4 scheme.
Juniors Ben Wells and Jalon Baker will fill two of the team’s linebacker positions, while sophomore Austin Bryant will start on the weakside.
On paper, the secondary will be the team’s biggest strength as Onwu, McGrone, Cantrell and the two Odoms are expected to play in secondary.
Junior Kyle Bennett will handle the kicking duties.