The Red Raiders are off to a great season

Photo by: Alyssa Filkins (
Photo by: Alyssa Filkins (
Alyssa Filkins

Following a playoff berth last season, the Red Raiders have started 2-0 to kickoff the 2023 campaign. With a great offensive line putting us ahead of other teams, we are in for a good season. The Red Raiders, with faces new and old, have gained achievements that make us proud to be Raider Nation. As the season continues, we hope the Raiders continue their hard work.

Starting a better season than the last, the Red Raiders offensive line is a force to be reckoned with. The team has recently won offensive line of the week displaying the team’s strength and showing us a smidgen of what else is in store for us this season.

When the team won the offensive line of the week many players felt good and were proud of this achievement. Player James Simental says, “It feels great to be recognized as number 1.” However this achievement came with hardships from both players and the coaches. The coaches and players worked hard together this season and their efforts were rewarded. As Justin Smith said, “It felt really good because the lineman knows how hard we work with Coach Taylor.” The synergy between the coach and players helped them to gain this achievement and is something that they should be proud of.

This year the team is “striving to host a playoff game for the first time in school history.” As Justin states whilst also mentioning the amount of potential that the team has. A great example of this is player Zakhari Shiflet who has won player of the week. Shiflet says that he played football early on and “To be able to win shows the work that I put in.” His hard work and efforts paid off earning him the title player of the week. With great players and a hardworking team with high potential James says that the team will make “a high seed in the region.” and that he “feels like we can be winners.”  With high ambitions and a great team the Red Raiders are going to show us astounding results and make history for our school.

Braxton Waller starts on the offensive and defensive line. He has a deep affection for hitting people under Friday night lights and the crowd cheering him on. He has been playing football for a decade of his life, and is very proud of his team for getting awarded the offensive line of the week. He wanted to play wide receiver, but instead got put on the double line. Braxton prefers Friday night lights instead of cool morning chill practices. He also wanted to play pickleball before he started his young football career at the age of 7. Braxton continues to play football for his friends and for his mother that he deeply cherishes and will never let down. He is strongly confident in his team and that they will win the state title this year. Braxton loves to play against Cedar Shoals because he loves the anticipation of the crowd and student sections. His favorite field to play on away from Raider Field is the Apalachee Terrace at Apalachee High School.  “The atmosphere is very small but peaceful,” according to the senior lineman. Waller also mentions his love for the mountain weather: “it’s just cooler.”

Another great player, #11, Garret Smith loves the game of football as well. Smith says, “I love the competition aspect especially because you are being your best against the guys across from you every play.” Garret started his football career in the 6th grade and is still pushing through strongly into the 9th grade. As a young man starting on varsity Garrett makes up for the lack of age with size, but he still dominates on the field despite his injury. Even though Garret is in the 9th grade he will continue to build the football program throughout his high school career.

Fighting through the adversity of losing key players and negativity from the media, the Raiders are primed to continue a upward trajectory in the 4AAAA landscape. This week your Red Raiders take on the North Oconee Titans this Friday at Red Raider Field. Be there, be loud, and go Raiders!

With all things in perspective the football team is surely considered to do great this year including the players like Braxton Waller, Justin Smith, his little brother Garret Smith, and finally Zakhari Shiflet. Go Raider Nation! 

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