The Raiders will benefit from the return of rising senior running backs Tae Ray and Mack Coleman. Ray rushed for 1,222 yards last season, averaging more than 100 yards per contest.
“Mack and Tae are really good players and we have a group of offensive lineman who are juniors but a few of them got playing time last season,” Goddard said.
However, East Paulding must replace graduated All-Region quarterback Mitchell Webb in the starting lineup. Rising senior Tyler Gordon and Ethan Williams will compete for the starting spot throughout the summer and into the fall. Goddard noted that either player may see time on the field in a different position if he’s not at quarterback.
The Raiders run a 3-4 base defense and must replace its entire starting defensive line which was led by All-Region performers Chris Guinn and Conner Christian. Rising junior defensive tackle Keith Knight had 20 tackles last season and is expected to see increased time in a starting role for East Paulding.
Rising junior linebacker Sonny Smith had a team-high 112 tackles and nine sacks last season and will lead the linebacker group which also includes Marlon Nichols and Coleman. Rising senior defensive backs Enoch Pile and DJ Wakefield will solidify the Raiders’ secondary.
East Paulding dropped its playoff game last season to eventual state runner-up Tucker, 16-13.
“We’re trying to push our guys and get them to work,” Goddard said.
“We’re trying to ‘raise the bar,’ which is a term we’ve developed this summer. We’re not pleased until we’ve gotten to a certain level to win that type of game.”
The Raiders open this upcoming season Aug. 22 at Allatoona.