Ridge View halted the erosion of success last season thanks to the play and leadership of a committed senior class. The Blazers halted a run of four straight losing, non-playoff seasons by going 6-6.
The problem: Graduation exacted a heavy toll.
“We took a big, big hit, no question about it,” said coach Raymond Jennings, who is entering his 10th season at Ridge View. “We have a lot of talented kids, but we really don’t know how they will perform yet on the varsity level. This is the season we find out if we have a program in place or if we go back to piecing together teams year by year.”
The top returning players are seniors Daryl Shamlee (6-foot-2, 170 pounds), Javarus Mickle (6-1, 200), Harrison Terry (6-1, 270) and Josh McDuffie (6-0, 270).
Shamlee rang up 62 tackles at free safety and has an offer to play at Appalachian State.
“Daryl’s come a long way at safety in a short time,” Jennings said. “He started as a receiver, and this will only be his third season at safety. He’s also only the second kid to have an early offer since I’ve been at Ridge View.”
Mickle had 64 tackles at inside linebacker a year ago. Terry and McDuffie are the returning starters on the offensive line.
Tevin Adams (217 yards rushing, 3 TDs) and Walter Nappier (261 rushing) both lettered a year ago and will be the go-to guys in the offensive backfield.
Chris Redmond (6-0, 365) and Christian McKie regularly rotated in on defense last year — Redmond up front, McKie at outside linebacker. Redmond could be the key at nose guard this fall as the Blazers switch to a 3-4 look.
Ridge View was a potent offensive team in 2012, but the key playmakers are gone.
“We feel we have some good athletes with the potential to be very good, but, again, its all speculation right now,” Jennings said.
Senior Terrell Fetterson and junior Tyreek Robinson-Bush are dueling at quarterback. Fetterson hasn’t played football since the ninth grade. Robinson-Bush took a few varsity snaps last season.
Fetterson, Robinson-Bush and Shamlee all could see some time at receiver. The new No. 1 target could be senior Okechi Ntiasaqwe.
Potential impact newcomers include: senior linebacker Raheem Miller — a transfer from West Florence — junior offensive linemen Dennis Daley (6-4, 260) and Malik Ball (5-9, 280), junior defensive end Zane Smith (6-1, 255) and junior linebackers Malcolm Montgomery (5-9, 170) and Joshua Hill (6-0, 180).