By Greg Ford
The Raiders head into this Friday’s season opener at Red Oak with a team that’s full of promise, but also one that needs work. That basically was head coach Joe Lepsis’ assessment following Friday’s morning scrimmage at Frisco Heritage.
“Defensively, I thought we played really well,” Lepsis said. “We flew around and did a pretty good job of tackling. We’re still a long way away (regarding) keys and reads and being right. But just the speed they played with and the aggressiveness, I was impressed.”
He added, “Offensively, we had way too many penalties and we turned the ball over. It was just mistakes, and I think the toughness level of our offense needs to go up a little bit and they will just sync together a little better. But, at this time of year your defense is usually further along than your offense.”
Quarterback Braden Shewmake, who takes over for the graduated Garrett McCain, will lead the Raider attack.
“He looked good,” Lepsis said. “I thought for the first time, I think, to play quarterback ever, he looked good. You don’t have to worry about Braden and the game being too big for him, because he’s been in every situation in every other sport. The passing game is usually the last thing to gel.”
Another thing Lepsis and his staff must deal with is the Raiders’ youth, as there are plenty of players seeing their first varsity action.
“I told (the team) when we were done that there were moments when we looked young, but we had a lot of moments where we looked further along than I thought we would be,” the coach said.
Those kids will get their inaugural taste of Friday night lights this week at Red Oak, where the Raiders travel to face a team that bested them by a point last season.
“This will be our third year (playing each other),” Lepsis said. “We beat them the first year and they beat us last year. I think we have similar numbers coming back, and they are a fairly young team like we are. What I know about Red Oak from playing them last year is they are going to fly around, hit you in the mouth and play tough … We’ll have our hands full.”