The Raiders have reached the .500 level the past two seasons after six consecutive losing campaigns — going 5-5 in 2011 and then achieving a 6-4 record last year.
The 2012 season was a breakthrough for Riverwood, which got off to its first 5-0 start since ’86.
Raiders coach Robert Ingram is now looking for his team to move up another notch and qualify for its first state playoff berth since 2001.
“I think there was a lot of excitement [last season],” Ingram said. “But we’re at a point in the program where we were disappointed with what we left on the field. We have a great opportunity to go 9-1 and put us in a position to host a playoff game. It’s a little bit of a motivation for us.”
Ingram said a productive offseason has his team ready to get off to another strong start.
“We had about 80 kids come out every day in the weight room,” he said. “We worked hard. We completely installed our offense and defense, so we are probably further ahead than we’ve ever been. It’s been a really good summer.”
Senior quarterback Grant Drakeford said he is confident about Riverwood’s quest for a state playoff spot.
“Things are looking a lot better,” Drakeford said. “We have a lot of returning players and some new players, and we’ve been working hard in the offseason. So we’re looking forward to a good season.”
Riverwood is especially boosted by the return of Drakeford, who led the team in rushing as well as passing and was also a Class AAAAA All-State selection as a kickoff returner.
“You can put Grant anywhere you want to,” Ingram said. “He can play it all. He’s just a phenomenal kid with great parents and a great background and that usually leads to success on and off the field.”
The Raiders are also led on offense by senior running back Tyler Blake, who earned All-Region 7AAAAA first-team honors.
Senior fullback Logan Blackley, senior running back Jamir Dickens and senior wide receiver Stetson Mayes are the other key players on offense, with seniors Zach Feldman and Kory Gillam anchoring the offensive line.
Defensively, all-region senior safety Kendall Morrison returns to lead the way in the secondary, along with fellow senior safety Burke Copeland and junior defensive back Marcus Rosser. Junior Darius Hinton anchors the defensive line and junior Reginald Prince and senior Izaiah Prouse Lackey lead the linebacker corps.
Aug. 30 Cambridge
Sept. 6 at Holy Innocents’
Sept. 13 North Springs
Sept. 20 Sequoyah
Sept. 27 at Northview
Oct. 4 at Kell*
Oct. 11 Sprayberry*
Oct. 18 at Osborne*
Oct. 25 at Pope*
Nov. 8 region play-in game
*denotes region game