Rickards shows room for improvement in preseason win over Bay
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
Despite putting a Rickards High School football team on the field that seemed starkly different from last year’s squad, coach Quintin Lewis wasn’t quite ready to say the Raiders have all of the bases covered to launch their season this weekend.
The Raiders displayed a new offensive weapon in running back Destin Coates in a 36-19 preseason victory over Bay High School at Cox Stadium this past Friday night. With the addition of Coates comes the opportunity for Rickards to become more of a dual threat with an offense that returned its 1-2 punch quarterback D.J. Phillips and receiver Javon Wooten, who made two catches for 78 yards.
The Raiders also showed some improvement in their kicking game, with the addition of Jose Salazar.
Coates was just explosive from his first to last play.
But there were bothersome things like two interceptions thrown by Phillips and an assortment of dropped balls that Lewis said hadn’t gone unnoticed.
“It was a preseason game and it looked like one tonight,” Lewis said. “We’ll be better next week.”
The Raiders open their regular season schedule on Friday at Madison. Most of the week ahead of the game will be spent cleaning up the mistakes displayed against the Tornadoes, Lewis said.
They’ll also be tweaking the offense to make sure Coates continues to show the kind of skills he displayed in his first game as a Raider. Coates transferred from Moseley High School, returning to his hometown where he played junior varsity football at Nims Middle School.
He seemingly cemented his place as starting running back for the Raiders with his nine carries for 142 yards, including touchdown runs of 40 and 1 yards. He set up the 1-yarder with a 65-yard run and had rushed for more than 100 yards before the third quarter.
“We are trying to incorporate the running game into our scheme,” Lewis said. “Last year we were a heavy pass team. We are getting better and better but it’s a work in progress. We still got a long way to go.”
Coates acknowledged that he won’t be a secret for any of Rickards’ opponent, although he is a new addition. He pronounced himself fit for the challenge, though.
“I’m ready for it,” he said. “That’s what we work for at Rickards. We worked super hard. I’m not afraid of anything. I’m ready.
“I take the pressure off the receivers. I know all of the defensive players are going to think I’m going to get the ball every time but this just gives my receivers the advantage to be opened.”
Phillips had some of those opportunities against Bay, but couldn’t find his receivers after faking the hand off to Coates. Both resulted in turnovers.
“It was just me misreading,” said Phillips, promising to get better before facing the Cowboys. “I’ve got to get back on my reads.”