STADIUM: Jim Valentine Athletic Complex, 11646 Town Center Road, New Port Richey CLASS-DISTRICT: 5A-7 (with Anclote, Gulf, Hudson, Ridgewood, Wesley Chapel) COACH: Ryan Benjamin (9-11, third season) LAST SEASON: 3-7
Snead fills several needs
Quentin Snead, Sr., WR/DB
One of the Royal Knights’ precious few seniors, Snead is poised to be a difference-maker on both sides of the ball. He is known for his versatility, also playing quarterback in addition to his current positions.
“I’m used to moving around,” Snead said. “All I care about is winning. I tell coaches, ‘If you want me to snap the ball, I’ll snap the ball.’ ”
While that’s unlikely, River Ridge might just air it more this year with pocket passer Patrick Mathieson under center, and Snead will be his top target.
As a defensive back, he’s a ball hawk, intercepting three passes last season. His plan this year is to lead the district in pickoffs.
Ben Perdomo, Sr.. running back/defensive back
Perdomo will likely do most of his damage on defense, where he’s a returning starter at strong safety and one of many Royal Knights to cultivate the school’s reputation for hard-nosed play. But coach Ryan Benjamin is also toying with the idea of giving him some carries on offense, as River Ridge lost three tailbacks to graduation last year. “We feel like our running game is going to be a strength for us,” Benjamin said. Either way, Perdomo is not somebody opponents want to see coming at them on Friday night.
Leaders on the line
Seniors Jordan Harris and Joe Semsey will head a slimmer-looking offensive and defensive line for the Knights. Harris, a converted fullback, may be undersized, but is an excellent blocker, while Semsey will be a tough run-stopper in the middle of the defensive front. “I think we’re more athletic on our line, and it allows us to open things up offensively,” Benjamin said. “We’ve got a lot of guys that can move really well, get to the second level and block the linebackers.”
Go-to yardage gainer
River Ridge has to replace its top six offensive players from last season, which amounted for 2,293 of the team’s 2,449 yards (93.7 percent). Perdomo, sophomore Chris Schwarz and senior D.J. Harrington will likely spread the carries around, while Mathieson will be relied on to give the team a balanced attack. “Patrick is good. He’s smart,” Snead said. “He may not have the strongest arm, but he spreads the ball out. He has a great football IQ.”
River Ridge lost 12 players who started games last year, while a handful of which were starters on both sides of the ball. That’s a lot of experience to lose. “When those guys graduated last year, we immediately recognized that we had to start looking to the future,” Benjamin said. Luckily the Knights have an talented crop of sophomores to choose from, led by Schwarz at fullback and linebacker, TE/LB Brandon Lempfert and RB/LB Patrick Cook.