By WHH staff
Most Raiders’ fans know the big names who score most of the points on an offense averaging almost 40 points per game.
We know Zae Baines ‘20 is one of the most widely recognized football talents in the history of the school.
While Head Coach Stephen Alexander emphasizes the way in which stellar players like Baines play well as a group. “It helps that those talented players play well together,” he said.
“Zae is probably the best athlete that I’ve coached in my career,” Alexander said. “He’s very gifted in terms of his size, speed, quickness and athleticism. He’s typically the best player on the field almost every game.”
Maybe people don’t know how many touchdowns he has scored this season (12), but we know he will be playing at rising FBS power Temple University next year.
“It’s inspiring to be playing with Zae because he’s going to a DI school,” said cornerback Juwan Jackson ‘21. “I get to be on the field with a DI talent.”
We know Baines might have even more touchdowns if defenses didn’t spend so much time trying to double and triple-team him.
The team has a balanced passing and rushing attack because the healthy Isaac Harris ‘20 is distracting defenses with his powerful running. Maybe people can’t keep track of how many touchdowns (21) he has scored, but we know he is a big deal since the Roanoke Times has put his picture in the paper on three different occasions and featured him in a major story.
“He’s healthy, and he’s strong,” Alexander said about Harris, “and he’s quicker than he’s ever been. He’s added a very valuable dimension to our offense.”
We are starting to notice that quarterback Gabe Zappia ‘21 set a single-game record for passing yards (436) against the second-ranked team in VISAA Division II. He has passed for 25 TDs this year and rushed for two by himself.
“Gabe has done a good job of maturing from last year,” Alexander said. “And he’s more accurate. He has a very good group of seniors who he can throw to. Again, football is very dependent on the players working well together. Gabe is playing well, and so are his receivers.”
Most of us do not focus on what happens after the big names score all those touchdowns. That’s when Vedant Muse ‘22 converts the point-after-attempt. Because of all the scoring, Muse has attempted 60 PATs and converted 49. He kicked his first field goal of the season in a loss to Trinity Episcopal.
In other words, Muse is one of the top four scorers on the team with 52 points.
“Vedant has been a very pleasant surprise for us at place kicker,” Alexander said. “He joined the team late in the summer and has provided with a level of consistency at kicker that we have not had in awhile. We’re excited to see him develop in the next two years.”
Muse learned to kick by playing soccer, and he also shares kick-off duties with Baines. Recently, he started learning some of the other positions to be ready to substitute for other players in case of injury. For now, he gets to specialize.
“I always wanted to be a kicker,” Muse said, “and I have been kicking for a long time. So I asked coach and he let me try.”