By Brian Paglia
Nick Davis loves the problem with his secondary right now. Davis, returning to coach football at Riverdale after a two-year absence, loves having a list of eight players in his mind competing for four spots in the starting secondary.
In the midst of sifting through position battles at both offensive and defensive line, the competition at cornerback and safety is especially clogged with a quantity of talent.
"That's a good thing," Davis said. "All of them have experience and if somebody goes down [with an injury], it's just like having your starter out there. It's just a matter of if somebody gets hurt. They could be one big play away."
Davis will be looking for that big play Thursday when the Raiders scrimmage Lithia Springs. Davis named junior Levelle Westbrook and senior Fletcher Redd the starters at cornerback and seniors Edward Bivens and Hakeem Smith at safety. But behind them are seniors Michael Adams, Solomon Otoo, Joe Spear and Kenny Norris to add depth, security and motivation.
Lithia Springs improved to 4-6 last season in coach Steve Horton's second year, and the Lions' spread offense should be a perfect test and barometer to sort out the competition at secondary.
"It's going to be a good test for us," Davis said. "It's going to be a chance for us to evaluate our kids going against somebody else in real action. We'll see.
"It's going to be real important for them to have a good scrimmage and do the little things we've been coaching them to do. That's what we'll be looking for. I'm not concerned with who wins. We just want to see guys doing what we've been coaching them to do. That's our main goal."
Westbrook, Redd, Bivens and Smith seem solidified in their starting roles, but Davis said he's not against Adams, Otoo, Spear or Norris playing their way into starting roles.
"We're going to play the best people," Davis said. "The key is a lot of people can look good in practice. But who's going to look good when you're out there by yourself and do what you've been coached to do? That's what we're going to be looking for with those guys."
Just a Few Tweeks
Davis took his offense with him when he moved to Shiloh three years ago to try and resuscitate a morbid program. But it didn't leave Riverdale altogether.
The past two coaches during Davis' absence, Kevin Jones and Jamie Reed, each stuck with the core of Davis' offense with various tweeks and alterations. Davis said Jones and Reed integrated the passing game more so than during his two years in 2004 and 2005.
"My main goal is to establish the run," Davis said, "keep it close four quarters and hopefully we'll be tough enough to finish the game."
Davis has reintroduced his blocking schemes and basic techniques, but he hasn't had to make a complete overhaul.
"I think the philosophy changed more so than just the actual playbook," Davis said.
Perfect problem at Riverdale