Injuries to three key players derailed Richmond’s season last year, leading to a 5-5 record.
By TOD PALMER
The Kansas City Star
Now, inexperience threatens to prevent the Spartans from returning to elite status.
Coach Rob Bowers likes his quarterback, junior returning starter Kuinton Maxwell, but that doesn’t guarantee success — especially playing behind a rebuilt offensive line.
“How quickly they can come together will be a big key,” Bowers said. “That is one of the biggest concerns going into the season.”
Senior left guard Brock Bowers returns, but he’s the only lineman back. Sophomore Seth Plymell has been penciled in at right guard, and senior Alex Wrisinger steps in at left tackle.
Another sophomore, Kanon Franklin, will play either center or right tackle and the fifth starter depends on where Franklin winds up.
That group will pave the way for senior running back Brock Stokes and sophomore tailback Tommy Wedgeworth. Seniors Jake Gray and Devin Brown take over at wide receiver.
Still, much of the pressure will fall squarely on Maxwell’s shoulders. Fortunately, he’s 6-3 and 205 pounds.
“Kuinton’s a good player, but he’s going to have to be patient,” coach Bowers said. “Things aren’t going to be quite as smooth, especially early, as we would like, so he’s going to have to been in control of the ship out there and keep it from rocking too bad.”
Maxwell and Stokes also are two of Richmond’s three returning starters on defense, but both are moving from safety to linebacker. That makes Brock Bowers, a defensive tackle, the only true returner.
He is joined by senior Alex Hays with Franklin and senior Jordan Beck at the end positions in the Spartans’ 4-3 scheme.
Gray moves into a starting role at linebacker with Brown and Wedgeworth expected to start at safety. Juniors Daymean Probst and Dylan McFee are Richmond’s new cornerbacks.
“I think eventually the defense is going to be OK,” coach Bowers said.