RICHMOND HILL, Ga. (WSAV) – When the Richmond Hill Wildcats take the field in two weeks, the defense will be made up almost entirely of new starters.
Seniors played in 10 of the 11 defensive spots on last year’s Richmond Hill team. With all those starting positions now up for grabs, the preseason practices have been particularly competitive this year.
“We talk all the time about ‘what’s going to be your legacy when you finish up,'” head coach Matt LeZotte explained. “We are coaching a good group of guys who are eager to get that started.”
While the players don’t have the ‘starts’ under their belts, most of the faces you’ll see leading this defense appeared in some of Richmond Hill’s biggest games last year as substitutes.
They’ve waited patiently for their moment, learned from the stars before them and are now ready to shine.
“We are all sponges. Every single drill matters to us and we are so attentive in all the things we do that it makes picking up new concepts easy,” senior cornerback Tommy Bliss explained. “We are really smart this year.”
Bliss is the only returner on defense and has the task of mentoring some of the younger players — such as freshman Caleb Easterling. The young cornerback, who has already gotten rave reviews for the coaches, was sitting in the stands cheering on this team as a middle schooler last year. Now, he’s expected to step in and play big minutes from day one this season.
“The defense is always good so I’m always happy to add myself to it,” Easterling explained. “We had a good defense last year, but we graduated a lot of people so we know we have to come in and pick up where they left off. It’s a little bit of pressure, but you know I’m up to the challenge.”
The Wildcats open up the season with four away games before its first home game against Bradwell Institute on September 24th.