The Red Raiders season came to an end on Friday as the Riverdale Warriors jumped ahead to a 22-7 victory in the playoffs.
The game started close with both defenses not giving an inch. The Warriors didn’t allow a touchdown in the first half stopping the Red Raider run game in its tracks. The Red Raider’s turned the Warriors into a one dimensional team putting pressure on the quarterback and shutting down the passing game. The Warriors were able to punch through the stout Red Raider defense once in the first half however scoring one touchdown before half time.
The Red Raiders found success in the air. Connor Shemwell hit multiple targets all night, but Travis Martin and Jahlin Osbourne did most of the damage for the Red Raiders. Senior wide out Kelby Walker scored the lone touchdown for the Raiders, with Shemwell connecting with Walker on a long bomb to the end zone. The wide receiver trio made life difficult for the Warrior secondary, but ultimately couldn’t convert those yards into points.
Despite the tying score, the game took a turn for the Red Raiders in the second half. A botched punt return gave the Warriors excellent field position that set up an easy score and two point conversion. The 15-7 lead gave the Warriors all the momentum and Riverdale turned that momentum into multiple defensive stops and one more score to bury the Red Raiders late.
Predictions for next season
Despite the bitter end to the football season, the Red Raiders had a successful season by most metrics. The team finished at .500 for the regular season, including an upset against then ranked Rockvale at home. The Red Raiders also won all of the games that they were projected to win. The game against Shelbyville being the only outlier and even then the Red Raiders took that team to the wire coming within a field goal of snatching away victory. Shelbyville by the way just got finished knocking out Rockvale in the playoffs.
For the coming season the team is losing six seniors with offensive duo Kelby Walker and Connor Shemwell being the most notable. Shemwell finished the season just north of a 1,000 yards passing and won a few awards for himself. Walker didn’t get targeted as much this season, but the senior was always a deep threat and made some key running plays throughout the year. At present, it seems like Cole Pippenger will take over quarterbacking duties in what will be his sophomore year. There is a lot of time between now and the start of next season so Pippenger may not be the starter next year, but barring something unforeseen happening my money is on number 17 being under center next year.
Next season should see the Red Raiders improving as the core nucleus of the team is mostly the same. Konor Heaton should keep racking up yards behind a stout offensive line and the defense is only losing Derrick Scott. The team might even take down the Wildcats in the Coffee Pot next year as Tullahoma is losing nearly 25 seniors, though that is a ways out and Tullahoma is very good at being consistent.