The Raiders lost 25 seniors to graduation last year, leaving the team with only nine returning starters – four on offense and five on defense. However, Goddard doesn’t see this as a bad thing for his team.
“We did graduate some great players but the guys we have are good football players,” he said.
“I feel some of the best programs don’t have lots of returners. [Otherwise] that means they didn’t have many seniors last year,” Goddard said.
According to Goddard, the Raiders will have good size on the offensive line and good speed on the defensive line. Losing all four of his linebackers from last year and bringing in a fresh bunch now, he said his linebackers may be “raw” but also are talented.
The team will have 23 seniors this year and will be welcoming back quite a few players with playing experience and four players specifically named as key returners for the year.
Tight end and defensive end Connor Christian, defensive lineman Dylan Coleman, offensive lineman Tanner Ledbetter and quarterback Mitchell Webb will be key this season, according to Goddard. All four are seniors and all but Coleman are three-year starters.
Aside from the seniors that are set to play for the Raiders this year, Goddard said there are some underclassmen that have some good potential as well.
“We have some good young players. Obviously they haven’t had to perform on Friday so you never know what you’re going to get. JV went undefeated last year …We’ll probably start six or seven underclassmen,” Goddard said.
Over the summer the Raiders had three workouts a week as they focused on the basics of their offense and defense, as well as building strength in the weight room.
“It was very productive. We had good turnouts and our guys worked hard,” said Goddard.
Finishing the season as the Region 5-AAAAA Champions and advancing to the second round of the state Class 5A playoffs, the Raiders don’t appear to have much need for improvement or have too many goals to set for themselves.
“You always want to try to win the region. After that everyone’s goal is to try to win the state championship,” Goddard said.
Noting the winning tradition East Paulding football has, Goddard said for this season to be a success, “We’ve just got to do what we do.”
“There are high expectations every year,” he said.