Fearless Senior Class Leads Raiders in 2020 [Video]
“I’ll tell you what’s unique about this group,” states Habersham Central Raiders coach Benji Harrison. “They respect all those guys (Buford, Central Gwinnett, Dacula, Lanier) but they don’t fear what’s on the jersey. They just say, ‘let’s go play.'”
The Raiders have always been in a tough region, and it may have gotten tougher with the addition of Buford, a team with more state titles than it can even recall. No matter the task, the senior group might be one of the tightest to wear orange and blue in quite some time.
“We’ve been playing since like eighth grade,” says senior Patrick Tedder. “This senior class has been so tightly-wound. We have such great chemistry. It’s amazing to have teammates like this that you’ve grown up with.”
Harrison echoes that, acknowledging how special this year’s senior class is.
“We’ve got a strong, strong senior class,” says Harrison. “It’s kids that have played together for a long time. Every coach says it, talks about how good their kids are, but we have a great group of kids. Unbelievable kids, and they’ve played a lot of football. I expect big things out of them.”
Habersham went just 3-7 last season, but are just two years removed from a second round appearance at state. And they bring back a pair of All-State players in Joshua Pickett and Jackson Clouatre, as well as playmakers Tedder, Grayson Taylor, and defensive standouts Tanner Wade, Garrett Heaton, and Austin Wood. Pickett, a Duke commit, officially has made the transition from primarily wide receiver last season to quarterback in 2020.
“Definitely a learning experience, being back in the backfield again,” says Pickett, who showed his ability to pass in some special packages and two-point conversion attempts last year. “I used to play quarterback in rec ball and eighth grade. It’s really fun, and it’s definitely a great learning experience with these guys.”
“Josh is a really good athlete,” adds Harrison. “He’s played for us since his freshman year, so he’s no stranger to Friday nights. He started out as a quarterback early on back in middle school. I think he’s excited about it, and I expect him to have a good year.”
With one of the area’s most elusive athletes in space, Harrison and the Raiders could be a headache for opposing defenses.
“We are who we are to a certain degree,” states Harrison. “You have to be willing to adapt to who you are. Tweak it to fit who we are. I think we should be able to run the football, but I think we’ll be able to throw the football, too. To be successful, you have to be able to run and pass, and I think we have the capability to do both. Just get the ball in the hands of the guys who need to make plays.”
The defense has also made notable adjustments, and will rely more on guys like Tedder, Heaton, Wade, Pierce Vickery, and Wood. Pickett, who was very good last season on that side of the ball also, likely will only play snaps there in clutch situations.
“I really like where we are on defense,” says Harrison. “We know what our strengths are. The big thing defensively, we’ve turned them loose a little bit. We’re a lot more aggressive with how we’re playing. It fits the style that our kids want to play. They’re flying around and hopefully that’ll end up with making more plays.”
So no matter who’s on the schedule, this team continues to just put their head down and go after it.
“I think we line up pretty well, to be honest with you,” says Pickett. “It’s going to be a tougher region, but we’re too good together chemistry-wise and stuff. It really won’t matter, we’ll just have to play our best and see where that leads us.”
Habersham opens its season on September 4 at home against Madison County.
Pickett last season was an All-State honoree after collecting 750 receiving yds and 7 TD, and added 23 rushing yards, 66 passing yards (and a TD), had 555 kick and punt return yards (and a TD). On defense, Pickett had 61 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 5 pass break-ups, and two fumble recoveries.
Tedder had 133 yards receiving and a TD, and on defense collected rec 73 taclkes (1.5 for loss), 2 interceptions, 5 break-ups, 7 passes deflected, two forced fumbles, and a recovery.
Digital Copy of Interview – Joshua Pickett & Patrick Tedder
Digital Copy of Interview - Joshua Pickett & Patrick Tedder
Digital Copy of Interview – Benji Harrison
Digital Copy of Interview - Benji Harrison