The 2009 Decatur Red Raiders

The Decatur Red Raiders made it to the first round of the Class 6A state playoffs in the 2008 season, and Coach Jere Adcock expects his team to perform well again this season.

Decatur High School graduated more than two dozen seniors from the 2008 roster, but Coach Adcock is optimistic of his 2009 team.

The Red Raiders will look for leadership from their returning senior quarterback, Ben Neill.

Neill has compiled more than 3,000 yards passing over the past two years, along with 41 touchdowns and only five interceptions.

"Ben has been a big asset for our team the past two seasons, and we look to him to be our leader this year. He has the ability, and he has shown good leadership qualities," Coach Adcock explains.

"He is a very intelligent young man. He has a 30 on his ACT, and his GPA is over 4.0. All the Ivy League schools want him," Adcock notes.

While the Red Raiders will look for senior leadership from Neill, they will also look for some young players to step up and carry the load. Desmond Lavelle and Ryan Watson are two key players to watch.

"Desmond has played linebacker for us since he was a freshman," Adcock said. "He has done a tremendous job, and we expect him to get better this season."

"We will have to play him at running back some this season, but at 5-11, 220 pounds his true position is linebacker. He finished the season with 95 tackles and two interceptions last year. He runs a 4.7, 40-yard dash, until you put him on the field, and then he plays much faster."

"Ryan Watson will also play a big part in our game plan. He is a 5-11, 165-pound wide receiver that has a lot of skill. He also plays some defensive back, and returns kicks and punts. He's a football player that runs track. He ran a 4.55, 40 after he broke his ankle last season."

"He (Ryan Watson) missed all but three games with the ankle injury, but he is healthy again and we look forward to having him start, and play a full season."

Coach Adcock discusses the loss of personnel from last year's squad, and what he expects from this coming season.

"We lost 26 seniors last year, 10 offensive starters, and seven defensive starters," Adcoack stated. "So, a lot of folks won't give us much of a chance this season, but I think we will be OK once some of the younger players come around."

"I think we will have more speed and talent at our skill positions, but our O-line and D-line will be young and small. That will be our biggest challenge this fall."

"It's tough to play small, young guys up front in 6A. Especially when everyone else is playing big, experienced guys up front."

"I'm very optimistic about this team. We will probably take our lumps until some of the young guys grow up, but we will be OK by season's end," Coach Adcock concluded.

The Red Raiders will begin spring practice May 4th and finish May 13th. No spring jamboree is scheduled.

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