The Raider football team has big expectations this year following last year’s 4-6 record and a first-round loss to Westfield in the opening round of sectionals.
“The goals this season are the same as every season, we want to win some sort of championship,” said head coach Terry Peebles, who has a 12-10 record in his first two seasons at Harrison. “We’d definitely like to win the NCC Championship, which I think is definitely attainable. Secondary from that would be the sectional championship.”
The Raiders opened up their season 0-2 with losses coming against Westfield and last week's 26-25 loss to Western Boone.
Team chemistry is high but not as high as it could potentially be.
“We are still building it up, but it is strong,” said junior quarterback and running back Jonathon LaGuire. “We all trust each other and pick each other up.”
Juniors Drew Zeltwanger, Jack Connors, and Jack Mosley are all offensive linemen who missed the first game, causing Peebles to move seniors Jordyn Castillo and Sam Bartu from the defensive line to the offensive line.
Zeltwanger did play in the game against Western Boone with Connors and Mosley still on the sideline.
“With the offensive line already hurting and now we robbed from Peter to pay Paul by moving those kids from defense to offense,” said Peebles. “Once we get all those kids back to their normal positions, I think we’ll be pretty good.”
Connors and Mosley should be ready to hit the field by mid-season.
Peebles believes that the offensive and defensive lines are the team's strongest when healthy.
Staying healthy will be a major key to the Raiders’ success.
Last year’s team ran a system where J Dan Sturgeon was the only quarterback playing. This year is a little different.
Senior Jackson Vanderwielen and LaGuire both run the offense.
For anyone wondering, this is not a position battle.
Vanderwielen and LaGuire each bring their own skill set to the table.
“That was the plan coming into the season,” Peebles said. “Both of them have been playing QB all summer. Jonathon was a running back in middle school and as a freshman, so he is a little bit better at running the ball than Jackson is, but Jackson has been a QB his whole life so he knows how to run the system and find the open guys. It’s very beneficial to have two. Most teams struggle to find one good QB, but we are lucky to have two of them.”
Currently, Vanderwielen has more passing yards, while LaGuire is leading the team in rushing yards this season.
“It’s very fun for me to be able to play the same side of the ball in multiple positions,” said LaGuire. “It helps me understand the game better and leaves me informed when I play QB.”
The Raiders start 11 new players on the defensive side of the ball this season.
Peebles is looking for junior linebackers Butch Knox, Brayden Illingworth, and Keon Dillon to do very big things for the defense.
Although Illingworth or Dillon were not every game starters last season, Illingworth had 45 tackles and Dillon had 32 tackles.
Harrison takes on Logansport Friday at Rickard Field.
The Raiders have won the last two meetings between the Berries.
Key Players: Jackson Vanderwielen, sr., QB; Jonathon Laguire, jr., RB/QB; Dawson Dahnke, jr., RB; Adam Sturgeon, sr., WR; Joseph Fraseur, sr. WR; Kam Crooks, sr., RB/WR; LJ Hart, sr., HB/WR; Drew Zeltwanger, jr., OL; Jack Connors, jr., OL; Jack Mosley, jr., OL; Sam Bartu, sr., DL/OL; Jordyn Castillo, sr., DL/OL; Cade Bishop, sr., DE; Keon Dillon, Brayden Illingworth, Butch Knox, jr., LB; Isaac Armstrong, so., CB; Daasch Pearson, jr., CB