River Bluff looks to build upon historic season
Having the most successful football season in school history would leave some teams resting on its respective laurels for the next year.
Nearly a full week into preseason camp, and 2018 is already a distant memory for the returning River Bluff High School players.
“We have a saying here at River Bluff which is leave the past in the past and worry about the future,” senior running back Braden Walker said. “I feel like a lot of teams reminisce on the past and how they’ve won championships in the past. They’ve won games last season and what they did last season and they get stuck on that.
“Our thing here at River Bluff is ‘Yeah, we know what we did last year was great. It was a real breakout year for us. But, we’re really worried about this year coming. What do we need to do to fix from last year is work on those small things and really get better.”
A full season as running back helped establish Walker as one of the top Midlands players in his position. However, he was among several players who suffered from the injury bug which hampered the Gators in their second round Class 5A playoff loss to Berkeley.
An increased effort in the weight room and taking more precautionary efforts during practice are among the injury preventive steps being undertaken by River Bluff. For head coach C. Blair Hardin, it’s especially necessary given the team’s depth issues.
“We just try to teach nutrition, take care of them in practice, get them in proper rehab,” he said. “Sometimes you have the injury bug. Sometimes it’s just one of those things at times.”
River Bluff does return the bulk of last year’s 9-2 squad, particularly on the offensive and defensive lines. Incumbent starting quarterback Michael Rikard and Jackson Stone are pushing each other in practice, and Thursday’s four-team practice in The Swamp could determine who’s the front-runner.
An emphasis in preseason camp will be improving the passing game.
“We’ve really this spring and summer have thrown the ball a lot more so we can take pressure off our offensive line and our backfield,” Hardin said. “So we want to try to be more balanced this year. So we’ve got some guys that we feel like can do a good job getting us space and making plays for us.”