Bumpy Start for the Raiders

Tad Greer, Senior Staff Writer

The Leonardtown Raiders Football Team began their much anticipated season on Friday after a good preseason where they won both of their scrimmages against Crossland and rival Chopticon. Coach Mike Nines said that “this has been the roughest training camp that I have ever dished out,” referring to the practices that the team had to go through before their scrimmages. There was more running and more exhausting drills this year than any previous Leonardtown team had ever seen. The team came into Friday’s game full of energy and an uncharacteristic amount of confidence. This was the beginning of a turn around season for the Leonardtown Raiders.

As Coach Nines has said on countless occasions “during our games we are putting on a show, and the show begins when they first see you.” North Point saw a different team full of energy and swagger in addition to the added hype of having the marching band, cheerleaders, and the team coming out of a giant helmet. The Raiders came into the game with a few objectives: create turnovers, know their assignments, and block the outside linebackers. During the first series the offense was not able to block and this would be a problem throughout most of the game. However, when North Point took over they were forced into a three and out by what was a solid defense by the Raiders despite some big plays during the game and much to North Point’s chagrin, the Raiders blocked the punt and now started at North Point’s eight yard line.

Despite this ideal field position the Raiders were unable to capitalize and came up with no points. There would be many other opportunities throughout the game but the Raiders were never able to put the ball across the goal line. This would happen all seven times that the Raiders got inside the twenty throughout the game. The offensive line struggled all night with North Point’s quickness and as the game went on it was clear that North Point was timing the snap count. This would lead to a dismal night for Leonardtown Raiders star running back Stephen Stewart. He only gained 55 yards all night.

Defensively, the Raiders were pretty solid and for the most part shut North Point’s offense down. Omitting all of North Point’s touchdown plays they only averaged 1.8 yards per play. However, football is the ultimate team sport and when one player on the defense made a mistake, it was a forty yard gain for the Eagles. All of North Point’s touchdown plays were long runs and without them, North Point’s offense would’ve looked mediocre.

Before the season began, Coach Nines gave the team a list of goals, two of which were to have at least a .500 season and to win the county cup. Both of those goals are still achievable. To win the county cup the Raiders have to beat all teams in the county (Chopticon and Great Mills), both of which lost on Friday against subpar teams. The Raiders are now looking ahead to week two against Northern whom runs a power offense which means the defense will have to be physical and hit nonstop which as is noticeable by the atmosphere on the practice field by the attitude of the players and coaches will not be a problem, hence the nickname the team has given themselves “Dirty 37.”