HANOVER COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Both Atlee and Lee-Davis made the 5A playoffs in 2015, but the teams return to different circumstances in 2016.
The Atlee Raiders usher in a new era with a new coach. Former Head Coach Roscoe Johnson has taken an administrative role with Hanover County Schools. In steps Matt Gray, who most recently served as the defensive coordinator at Randolph-Macon. Gray says he isn’t sure how many starters return from Johnson’s last team and that it’s not that important to him. He is teaching the Raiders a new system and plans to start whoever can carry it out the best. What Gray is sure about is that he has senior leadership in place that has bought in to what he is teaching. According to Gray, the Raiders’ seniors began absorbing his new systems as soon as he was hired, and now that fall practice has arrived, they are working on putting in the work to succeed on the field. A four-way quarterback battle that includes at least one senior and at least one freshman illustrates how open things are. The Raiders have been a playoff constant, so it’s the clear the area has the talent to be good, and Gray’s job will be to keep the line moving.
The Lee-Davis Confederates are coming off the best season in years, and there is reason to believe 2016 could be even better. LD went 8-2 in the regular season and won a playoff game before bowing out to eventual state champ Highland Springs. The C-Feds lost their quarterback and a pair of offensive linemen along with major parts of the receiving core, but they return the majority of that big, talented line as well as top running back Nathan Evans. Evans has re-opened his recruitment after verbally committing to the Naval Academy, and he’ll have a chance to impress recruiters behind his offensive line. Head Coach Ryan Turnage, in year three, plans to start a sophomore at quarterback. Turnage and Evans both believe the 2016 Confederates can be just as good if not better than the 2015 bunch if the chemistry is just as good and the teammates trust each other.