The recent history of the Raytown football program doesn’t offer a glowing endorsement for the future. After all, the Bluejays haven’t enjoyed a winning season since 1992.
But they’re ready for a change.
After winning five games for the second straight season, Raytown returns 10 offensive starters and five on defense — a gluttony of experience the team hopes will lead to its first .500 season in more than two decades.
“That’s the goal. No doubt,” said Raytown coach Kevin Page, who will begin his seventh year as the head coach. “We feel like if we can get off to a good start — and we know that’s not going to be easy — that we can build some momentum and that will push us to a strong finish, too.”
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That will be more difficult, of course, with an opener at Liberty North, which reached the Missouri Class 4 semifinals last season.
But this isn’t a typical Raytown football team. Not with this experience.
Senior running back Josh Drake ran for 1,620 yards and 23 touchdowns last season. He will run behind an offensive line that features left tackle Emeril Hart.
“Josh took the reigns last year and just exploded,” Page said.
The Bluejays will rely on Drake to help their goal of controlling the tempo of the game this season and eliminating three-and-out possessions. That would certainly aid the defense, which Page believes is full of speedy players.
Linebackers Brandon White, Theo Smith and Malcolm Talifero, defensive lineman Devon Wells and defensive back Jeff Byrd lead a defense that is determined to stop the run better than it did a year ago.