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Rice Raiders Open 2014 Football Season In Altair Against Ganado

The Rice Raiders open the 2014 campaign this Friday night, August 28 when they play host to the Ganado Indians in Altair.

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. in the Swamp.

After missing the playoffs for a few years, the Raiders got back to the postseason in 2013, but an early injury to then junior quarterback Jordan Johnson meant the Raiders’ season was over without a playoff win.

Rice is intent on repeating their playoff appearance, but are hungry for more this season.

“We’ve got a bunch of returning starters on both sides of the ball and those kids are bigger, stronger, and faster than they were a year ago,” said Raider Head Coach Gary Zeinert.

“The biggest area of improvement, in my opinion, is as a team we’re working harder and our attitudes are better than they were a year ago,” he added.

He said his team is always a “work in progress” as one can never be satisfied.

“We’re going to go out everyday and work as hard as we possibly can to become the best team we can be,” he said.

Zeinert said that it would be difficult to pick a single player that has shown extraordinary improvement, but said that Luther Cole and Todd Nicholas would be at the top of the list.

“You see them stepping up and becoming vocal leaders, becoming coaches on the field, and positive influences in the locker room,” Said Zeinert of the two seniors.

Zeinert also singled out new kicker Daniel Cantu.

He acknowledged that the kicking game has been lacking in recent years, but said that Cantu “is a very hard worker that has devoted himself to becoming the best kicker he can be.”

“Having the ability to not only consistently make extra points, but make field goals as well is going to make us a much better football team,” he added.

He said he felt the Raider defense has improved in every area from a year ago.

“Coach Mendoza, who’s taken over as defensive coordinator this year, does a great job of teaching the fundamentals of being a good player on the defensive side of the ball and I think that’s a big part of why you’re seeing our defense improve,” said Zeinert.

Of the offense, he said that this season is the second year that the team will run this offensive scheme and that the players are comfortable with and believe in the system.

“Having Jordan Johnson back is a huge bonus as well. I would expect big things from him this season,” he said.

As far as Ganado is concerned, Zeinert said that they are a very good football team that has been deep in the playoffs the last few years.

“We’ve got to play good defense and win the turnover battle to have a chance to beat them,” he said.

The Indians were regional semifinalist a year ago in Class A Division 1 and return 7 defensive and 2 offensive starters.

Players to watch for Ganado are: DE Austin Alford, WR Kameron Smith, Johnathan Martinez, DB Garett McCann, DB Jacob Foltyn, LB Brandon Lister.   [-end of story-]

 

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