WR/CB Gavin Hettinger (5’11, 173) – The senior, two-way star is a key on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. Even though he missed five games last fall, he was still an All-SPSL selection after averaging 17.8 yards per catch. This fall, he will add Wildcat QB duties to his list of responsibilities to get the ball into his hands even more.
RB/S Cole Huckaby (5’11, 195) – The AR coaches feel that Huckaby, also a senior, is probably their best overall player. He’ll start on both sides of the ball – at tailback and strong safety – but on offense is where he will have his biggest impact as the Ravens work in a new signal-caller this fall.
LB/RB Vinny Le (5’10, 200) – Le, another senior leader, makes his hay on the defensive side of the ball. As a junior he played outside linebacker and managed to post 40 tackles, five sacks and three interceptions. He’s got a real nose for the ball and the coaches like his playmaking abilities.
LB/SB James Baldwin (5’10, 200) – The only junior on the list of key players, Baldwin will make the move from corner last fall to outside linebacker this season. He’ll start both ways for the Ravens and the coaches are counting on him to be a leader on both sides of the ball.
OT John Coon (6’3, 255) – At the end of the 2013 season, Coon tore the patella tendon in his left leg, but he still earned All-SPSL honors as a junior. He’s still healing up, but the coaches expect him to be ready for the start of the season and consider him to be the most athletic of their lineman up front.
In just his first season as Auburn Riverside’s head coach, Bryant Thomas injected a positive attitude about where the program was headed and he maximized the potential of the talent he had on his roster, going 7-3 and winning the SPSL 3A title.
This season, Thomas and his staff will be hard at work finding a replacement for Kevin Thomson who headed to UNLV after his senior season.
Looking to fill those big shoes will be junior Kyle Stutrick, a 6’2, 170-pounder with an above-average arm and enough athleticism to move around in the pocket.
One of Thomson’s biggest weapons was the fact that he could run around and be another threat with his legs as he rushed for over 550 yards and nine scores.
Stutrick isn’t on that level, so Thomas will introduce the Wildcat using senior WR Gavin Hettinger to lead the attack.
When the Ravens want to run the ball, Stutrick or Hettinger will have senior tailback Cole Huckaby to hand the ball off to. The hard-driving runner rushed for nearly 900 yards and six touchdowns as a junior last fall and the expectation is they will lean heavily on the running game as Stutrick gets his legs under him.
At wideout, Hettinger leads the way along with fellow senior James Baldwin out of the slot and junior Colton Roberts who is just in his first year of playing football.
The offensive line definitely has some size, but they will need to gel early for the Ravens to find success on the field.
Senior left tackle John Coon leads the way up front and he will be joined by the likes of junior Matt Miles, who will play right tackle, and sophomore Terrell Moffett, a 6’4, 310-pound beast who just needs to be more aggressive and he could be an All-League type player.
Along the defensive line, Moffet will hold down the starting nose tackle spot while they will rotate several players in at the defensive end spots.
One player who could be a key to the success of the Ravens is Marcus Atafua. The native Samoan struggled with the language when he arrived at Auburn Riverside and there is an appeal for him to receive a year back. If that goes through, he will be eligible to start playing at the end of September and at 6’2, 285 pounds, he’d be a real rock for them along both lines.
At linebacker, senior Vinny Le makes the move from outside linebacker to the middle and he will be counted on to be a leader for them from that spot.
Joining him will be Baldwin who makes the move from corner to outside linebacker and Gerardo Cisneros who might not have a lot of size, but who makes plays all over the field.
The secondary is loaded with talent as Hettinger (CB) and Huckaby (SS) will handle two of the spots and junior Rashon Miller will also play safety.
Look out for sophomore O’Darious Shaw, a 6’0, 175 pound athlete who will play free safety and running back. He won’t start, but there is a great chance the Ravens staff won’t be able to keep him off the field with his outstanding speed and athleticism.
Former K Brandon Starks was also an All-SPSL specialist and with his graduation, the Ravens will be looking for someone to replace him.
The Bottom Line: Thomas is a very good coach and he knows how to use his talent, putting them in the best position to succeed. He’s got some very important players to replace, but he’s also got a lot of weapons to lean on as they ease in a new signal-caller. With the talent and programs in the 3A SPSL, the Ravens have their work cut out of them to repeat as league champs, but they have enough talent to make it to the post-season and they will definitely be a tough out for anyone that plays them.
@ Lakes (9/19)
Vs. Auburn (9/26)
Vs. Peninsula (10/23)