NO. 3 WARWICK RAIDERS
COACH: Juan Jackson (third year, 18-15; fourth year overall, 19-34)
2011: 6-5, 6-3 (T-5th); lost to Phoebus in Eastern Region quarterfinals
LAST TIME NOT IN PLAYOFFS: 2006
LAST LOSING SEASON: 2004
TOP RETURNEES: TE/LB/DE David Smith (6-2/210/Sr.), RB/CB Cardon Johnson (5-11/200/Sr.), QB Josh Butler (5-10/175/Sr.), WR/FS Demetree Harris (6-2/205/Sr.), WR/DB William Turner (5-10/180/Sr.), FB/LB Trevontez Butler (5-11/240/Jr.), FB/DL Grandison James (6-2/230/Sr.), OL/DL Shakur Ford (6-2/315/Sr.), OL/DL Scott Russell (6-2/220/Jr.), OL/DL Taukarri Hilton (6-1/290/Jr.).
Aug. 31: at Phoebus (L, 13-7), 7
Sept. 7: at Booker T. (W, 39-7), 7
Sept. 13: Woodside (L, 28-21), 6
Sept. 20: at Kecoughtan (W, 29-20), 7
Sept. 28: Menchville (W, 48-0), 7
Oct. 5: at Denbigh (W, 55-0), 7
Oct. 11: Hampton (L, 49-0), 6
Oct. 18: Bethel (L, 40-20), 6
Oct. 25: at Heritage (W, 42-13), 6
Nov. 3: Gloucester (W, 35-0), 4
2011 STATISTICAL RANKINGS:
24.4 (5th)….……..PPG…...…...…….17.2 (5th)
164.4 (4th)……… Rushing………….127.5 (5th)
123.3 (3rd)..…... Passing………......105.5 (6th)
287.6 (4th)..…….Total……………..228.3 (5th)
The Raiders have the luxury of returning the district’s best quarterback in Butler (76-of-143, 1,343 yards, 20 TDs, 11 INTs) and a two-time 1,000-yard rusher in Johnson (1,134 and 12 TDs in 2011). That alone makes Warwick dangerous with the ball. Butler specializes in turning nothing into something (much like another Warwick quarterback you might remember) and Johnson has become a bigger, stronger inside runner. The line returns three starters in Russell at LT and Hilton and Ford at guards (Hilton played center in 2011). Warwick’s biggest losses came at receiver, where five wideouts who combined for 56 catches and 17 TDs are gone. But Jackson likes Lewis Freeman (6-3/175/So.) and Chris Peace (6-4/195/Jr.), a transfer from Indian River, along with Harris. Smith will be the TE but he can go deep. If Butler’s receivers can produce and the line does its job, this could be an outstanding offense.
It all starts with Smith, who is so multi-talented that it makes it hard to find one spot to put him. Which is why on the Raiders’ roster, he’s listed as “athlete.” The front four will have Corey Garrison (6-3/220/So.), Ezekiel Brown (6-3/275/Sr.), James (a transfer from Menchville) and promising freshman Malik Harris (6-2/230). Behind them will be Smith (though he’ll line up at end from time to time) along with Corey Mass (5-11/185/Sr.) and/or Maceo Smalls (5-11/200/Jr.) on the outside and Trevontez Butler inside. Johnson will pull double duty at cornerback along with Turner, and Demetree Harris and Peace will be the safeties. The Raiders gave up 17 ppg last season, an improvement from the 26 ppg they allowed in 2010. But in a two-week stretch, they were torched by Hampton (49-0) and Bethel (40-20). Consistency is a must.
THE COACH SAYS:
“(Butler) has matured mentally and physically. His maturity and athleticism have caught up with him. He’s a great athlete and tremendous asset. … A lot of coaches don’t like using their quarterback to return kicks, but he’s so dangerous and can change the game with one play. … (Johnson) is bigger, faster and stronger. He’s seen the benefits of running track as well as hitting the weight room. … This year, his goal is 2,000. … We have very high expectations. Our goal is to win every game. With the parity in this league, if you make a mistake here and there, you can cost yourself a ballgame. … As long as we play mistake-free football and stay healthy, we can play with the best of them. … We want to do better than go 6-4 and make the first round of the playoffs. That’s a hump we have to get over. The goal this year, like everyone else, is district, regional, and state championship. … In this league, most of the teams run the ball, and you have to be able to stop the run. Our lines are key. Our skill guys will make it happen.”
Many programs would gladly accept a string of five straight winning seasons and playoff appearances, but for Warwick it’s getting a little stale. The reason is, each time the Raiders have gone one-and-done in the playoffs. They want more this time, and with the talent coming back there’s no reason it can’t happen. Butler is electrifying, Johnson is a gifted runner, and Smith is one of the PD’s best athletes. If the line does its job and the defense gets more consistent, Warwick could be a top-four seed and advance at least a round.
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