ND Football

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 24, 2007

ND kicks off season tonight

By Angie Ledbetter

Are you ready for Green Wave football?

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It started about five months ago with spring practice and spring scrimmages. It went through the summer with workouts every day.

It went through the scorching hot record breaking temperatures with practices. It went through the jamboree last Friday night and now it is here.

The team and coaching staff are ready, but are the fans and supporters ready?

Tonight fans will get the chance to be ready when the Green Wave team travel to Charleston to take on powerhouse Strider Academy Rams for the first game of the 2007 season.

Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. at the Joe B. Bradshaw field, south of Charleston.

Twenty seven Green Wave players will show off their new uniforms trimmed in green and new green helmets when they hit the field tonight for the first time this season.

The Green Wave and the Rams have not been in action against each other since October 10, 2003. On that night, it was Green Wave’s victory of 35-20.

But one has to believe that this Rams team has been told about that last lost to the Green Wave and they are eager to get a victory over one of their biggest rivals coming to their home field tonight.

The Green Wave team will be under the leadership of senior quarterback J.T. Dalrymple.

Following along beside him will be seven other seniors, Josh Garrott, Devin Maples, Seth Barnett, Michael Johnson, Don Phelps, Andy Barns and Miguel Reyes. The Green Wave roster also includes eight juniors, six sophomores, and five freshman.

The Green Wave will be looking to improve their 2006 record of 6-5 in their first year in Class “A.” The Rams will be looking to bounce back from their 3-7 record where they were shut out in five of those losses.

The Ram’ s roster consist of 18 players, one senior, seven juniors, five sophomores, four freshman, and one eighth grader. They will be under the leadership of their only senior and quarterback Mitchell Clark, No. 22.

Green Wave head coach Richard Russo is very excited about starting the season.

“The football season is by far my favorite time of the year,” he said. “It’s like a mini Christmas every Friday. The players are excited, too. They were pleased to hit somebody other than themselves the other night in the jamboree. I think that it was evident to everybody at the jamboree that they were excited, at least for that first game.”

Russo said that his team is ready, having prepared for it all summer. He termed the fall camp as “great,” minus a little set back from the judge.

“They are ready to show case everything that they have learned,” he said.

After playing in the jamboree last Friday night at Desoto, Ark., Russo had to make some adjustments and work on some areas this past week.

“We had to upgrade our tightened plate, our offensive backs blocking, and our offensive line pass protection,” he said. “Those were the three areas that we needed to improve the most.”

The Rams will be under

head coach Cliff Pitts for the second year.

“He played football at Vardaman,” said Russo. “He was a Vardaman Rim from Calhoun county where I coached for five years, so he’s been exposed to some very good football.

Russo said Ram quarterback Clark looked good on film.

“He’s not shy about running the football,” Russo said. “They’ve got some size up front.”

He talked about Strider’s rich football tradition.

“I think that they’re a five-time Class “A” State Champion in the MPSA,” he said. “So they have the tradition going for them and Coach Pitts has them working hard to get it back.”

Strider is a young team, according to Russo, and can be bad in experience but it can be good in enthusiasm.

“They’re returning a lot of experienced players from last year,” He said. “We’re not taking them lightly. We better snap it on and be ready because it’s going to be four quarters of football.”

There will be a pep rally for the team in the school gym at 2:30 today. The pregame show is at 7 p.m. on FM 106.9. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. with play-by-play action with Mickey Aldridge and Michael Bates.

Captains for tonight’s game are Andy Barns, Hunter West and Michael Johnson. Hitman of the week is Josh Garrott.