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By Russ Green-Sports Editor
After getting their first taste of action at last week’s jamboree, the young Richmond Spartans will be fully tested Friday night for real as they travel to Kansas City to meet O’Hara in an 8 p.m. kickoff. The kickoff has been moved back one hour due to the heat.
With just three starters coming back from last season’s 5-5 squad, Spartan coach Rob Bowers knows his team could take some time to jell.
“We want to play well, and try to develop some confidence, each play, each quarter and each half,” Bowers said. “Hopefully by the end of the game we have built something to have confidence in. The first game is always huge and more so this season because we have so many first-time varsity players.”
Bowers was concerned about the performance of his offensive line at last week’s jamboree. The Spartan coach said they were a bit tentative and did not come off the ball very well.
“We weren’t very aggressive and I think a big part was not knowing the assignments,” he said. “We will certainly address that and get better.”
Unlike the Spartans, the Celtics bring back some experience from last season’s 3-7 campaign. Six of O’Hara’s returning 14 seniors started on offense last fall, including four of five on the line. Bowers said the Celtic line is big and will be a challenge for his younger Spartans up front. He adds it is key that his linemen get off the ball better than they did at the jamboree.
Michael Briggs returns as the O’Hara quarterback and although the receivers are young, the Celtic passing game will be another test for a Richmond secondary with four new starters.
“Not only does O’Hara pass, but they also use a lot of misdirection and play action,” Bowers said. “That makes it harder because against a spread team you know they’re going to throw. O’Hara throws when they want and they throw quite a bit, but you have to play the run and the pass.”