NEW PORT RICHEY — Opposing linebackers will be peeking at Ridgewood’s backfield, looking at which way Rams running back Glass Wilson will be leaning.
After Wilson burst on to the scene to lead Pasco County with 1,518 rushing yards last season, it will be hard to blame defenders for completely focusing on the junior back.
But this season, Wilson has help. Clarence “Tank” Farria, Darnell Lindsey and Alex and Justin Mayorga round out what could be the best backfield the Rams have had in program history.
“We just have a lot of athletes,” Wilson said. “(We’re going to keep it a) little bit more fast-paced, so we can run right through opponents and let them get tired and keep doing it again. We have five running backs this year, and I’m definitely not going to be getting as many carries as I did last year, but we’ve got bigger linemen and it’s going to be something new.”
Wilson is a big part of Ridgewood’s transformation under third-year coach Jay Fulmer, who has completely revamped nearly everything about the program. From changing helmet colors (white from orange) to repainting a new meeting room to getting new uniforms, Ridgewood has gone from cellar dwellers to postseason contenders.
“It’s definitely like a new approach,” Wilson said. “I want to say that because coach Fulmer has done a lot for us. He changed the whole locker room and got us new jerseys. He’s painted just about everything around the stadium. It’s just been insane how much he’s done for the team.”
Wilson feels it’s not out of reach to make the Class 5A playoffs since District 7 is up for grabs. The Rams return young talent and many underclassmen starters from 2013. Wilson and crew are seemingly on the cusp of a playoff spot and almost expect to reach the postseason for the first time since 2007.
“I want to bring Ridgewood back from where it was to when Byronell Arline was here and bring the team to the playoffs,” Wilson said. “That’s what I plan to do and what I hope we can do as a team.
“As long as we can stay focused and practice hard and do all those things that winners do, we’ll be able to win like we’re supposed to.”
On paper, Ridgewood has the most potent rushing attack in Pasco County. Glass Wilson, who rushed for 1,518 yards last season, returns to lead the Rams’ offense. Clarence “Tank’’ Farria rushed for more than 300 yards and Darnell Lindsey chipped in 250 yards last fall. Throw in the transfers of Alex and Justin Mayorga from Class 1A state runner-up Blountstown, and the Rams have one of the top backfields in the area.
The team loses cornerback Chris Grant to basketball, but Ridgewood still returns several starters. Wilson and Farria step in at linebacker, and quarterback/defensive back Nick Michaels becomes Ridgewood’s leader in the secondary.
Ridgewood and coach Jay Fulmer finished third in Class 5A-District 7 and players feel it’s playoffs or bust for the Rams. Anclote graduated 22 seniors last season and with most of the district unproven, with the exception of Hudson, Ridgewood has the experience and talent to compete for a postseason spot.
♦ About The Rams
Stadium: Rams Booster Stadium
Class-District: 5A-7 (with Anclote, Gulf, Hudson, River Ridge and Wesley Chapel
Coach: Jay Fulmer (5-15, third season)
Last season: 4-6
Aug. 29: at Fivay
Sept. 5: Mitchell
Sept. 12: Land O’ Lakes
Sept. 19: at Anclote
Sept. 26: at Sunlake
Oct. 3: at Wesley Chapel
Oct. 10: Wiregrass Ranch
Oct. 17: Hudson
Oct. 24: at Gulf
Oct. 31: River Ridge