The key word for the Richland Northeast Cavaliers in 2023 will be finish. Four losses in 2022 were by nine points or less, including three to Region 4-4A foes.
“It’s a process,” Richland Northeast head coach Walt Wilson said. “We are in the third stage of that process. First we wanted to change the mentality and the culture. Last year was about teaching the kids how to fight. Now it will be about how to finish.”
To get a full picture of what the 2022 season could have been, considering Ridge View had to forfeit its games, the Cavaliers had a chance to finish second in the region but one-possession losses to Lugoff-Elgin and Westwood prevented that.
The offense will need to take another step forward for Richland Northeast to capture those crucial wins. The Cavaliers averaged 20.6 points per game last season.
Quarterback, and N.C. State commit, Will Wilson enters his third year with the team. Coach Wilson is looking for his son to continue to be a student of the game as he grows.
For Wilson to have success, he’ll need to be able to lean on his veteran offensive line of Joshua Jones, Rashad Pickett, Tyler Wilson, and Marquel Moser.
“If you don’t have them, you don’t have anything to go with,” Coach Wilson said. “We want to give the big boys some love.”
Will Wilson will also have some veteran guys in the skill positions, including running back James Willingham; and wide receivers Enosh Philippe, Adrian Jamison, Dillion Hugee, and Blake Betette.
The defensive side of the ball needs to show improvement as well, after giving up 33.4 points per game.
Coach Wilson is excited about his linebacking corps, which he described as deeper than it’s ever been. Tylon Shell, Jason Nash, and Cordell Brown anchor that side of the ball.
The region is as wide open as its been in some time with Ridge View and A.C. Flora experiencing significant player turnover. However, Coach Wilson said none of that matters if his team doesn’t perform.
“I teach the kids one thing: it’s not who you play; it’s how you play,” Wilson said. “If Northeast doesn’t play well, then we don’t win.”
His goal overall is to make the RNE community and alumni proud. He feels his team can be competitive, but the schedule is difficult with Blythewood, Crestwood, Nation Ford, and Keenan in the nonregion portion.
The most important stretch may come in the first two weeks of region play, with trips to Irmo and A.C. Flora.
Time will tell if the Cavaliers can learn to finish, but if they do they could certainly work their way to the upper half of Region 4-4A.