SPIVEY’S CORNER — Friday night football has returned, as the Raiders unofficially kicked off the 2016 season, hosting a midnight practice session open to the community.
“We used to do this when I was in high school,” Raider head coach, Jason Fussell, said, referring to his days as a student athlete at Wallace-Rose Hill. “It’s good for the kids and for the community. Our kids are young, so hopefully this will positively influence them and lead to good things.”
According to the head coach, there are 70 athletes, both junior varsity and varsity, to come out for the practice session.
“We’ve had 70 kids come out this year, JV and varsity, which is the most we’ve had in a while,” noted Fussell. “They love to play. We just have to get it to click on how to do it.”
Fussell said fan turnout for the event was a success, as a sizable amount of Raider faithfuls showed up for the unique experience. Fans were also able to catch a glimpse of this year’s team, being treated to a brief offense versus defense scrimmage which showcased flashes of potential on both sides of the ball.
Fussell acknowledges, however, there is still room for improvement.
“Our offensive line still needs some work,” admitted Fussell. “Our running backs are pretty solid, as are our tight ends, but we’re dealing with all new guys in the quarterback-center snap exchange. That’ll work itself out over time.”
While the Raiders are working with more athletes than normal, Fussell said there are still key issues to work out for the game.
“We’ve got more athletes than we’re used to having, as well as more speed, but there is still some timing issues at the key part of the game that have to be worked out.”
Midway will have two opportunities to make some adjustments in the preseason, beginning with a scrimmage at North Lenoir on Wednesday, followed by the annual Jamboree at Clinton High School on Friday.
The Raiders officially kick off the regular season on Friday, Aug. 19, when they host the Hobbton Wildcats. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.