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Wildcats optimistic as season nears
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It’s been a busy offseason for the Richmond Hill High School football team. It’s about to get even busier now that the regular season is here.

Today, the team will gather at RHHS to hold picture day.

Thursday, the Wildcats will don pads for the first time in 2012. And after last season’s breakthrough 6-4 campaign, hopes are understandably high in Richmond Hill.

"We feel like we have the potential to improve upon last year," said third-year coach Lyman Guy, who in his next sentence adds a note of caution. "However, potential means you haven’t done anything yet and that’s where we are now. We’ve done things we think we need to do to be successful, but we still have work ahead of us."

The Wildcats don’t lack for numbers — there are 93 players on the roster as practice begins and that doesn’t include freshmen — or experience, with eight returners back on offense and seven on defense. The kicking game also is experienced and includes Canon Rooker, who has committed to Middle Tennessee State University.

What’s more, RHHS returns 2011 Region 2-AAAA honorable mention performers in quarterback Dominique Allen, who has verbally committed to Air Force, defensive lineman Taylor Hays, running back David Katzman and defensive lineman Zach Stegner.

But there are unknowns, one of which comes as a result of realignment. When the Georgia High School Association went to six classifications, Richmond Hill moved up from AAAA to AAAAA.

That means Richmond Hill said goodbye to Region 2-AAAA and opens play in Region 3-AAAAA this fall.

Though only an eight team region, it’s subdivided with the Wildcats in Subregion A along with Effingham County, Groves and Jenkins. Bradwell Institute, Glynn Academy, Ware County and Windsor Forest are in Subregion B.

"I think by sheer numbers it’s an improvement simply because you don’t have to fight 12 teams to get into one of the top four spots," Guy said. "That’s encouraging from that aspect. But the level of competition is going to be just as good if not better and every week will be a dogfight as everyone tries to squeeze in one of the top four spots. Across the region it’s going to be very competitive."

At the end of the day, the Wildcats expect to be in the thick of it with everyone else.

"I feel going into this season that it’s the first one since I’ve been here where we can compete with all the teams on the schedule," Guy said. "I don’t want to shortchange what we’ve done in the past. Those were mountains we were able to climb and playing the way we played last year was a big step forward. Now we feel like we can compete with everybody on our schedule. I’m not saying we’ll win every Friday night, but we feel like we have a chance."

The Wildcats face South Effingham in a scrimmage at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 17 in Richmond Hill. The regular season opens Aug. 31 against visiting Johnson.

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