Raiders Aiming for State Title

For the 2012 Rider Raiders, the time is now.

They have their usual strong defense, and a four-star quarterback back as a senior, leading an offense that gained about 400 yards and scored about 38 points per game last year.

Rider junior defensive back Tanner Weir faces J.T. Barrett's offense three days a week in practice, and says it helps make the Raider defense better.

"J.T., he's above a lot of other quarterbacks that we play," said Weir.

Barrett verbally committed in April to play for Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes.

With the decision out of the way, that leaves his focus entirely on the team.

"Well that's the whole thing with recruiting as far as big-time recruits," Barrett said. "Getting it out in the spring so you can focus on your senior season and make sure your senior year is the one you want to remember."

"I think that's the key, it's out of the way now," agreed head coach Jim Garfield. "He is focused on what his team here at Rider has to do now. He's not a Buckeye yet, and he knows that."

Barrett turns a lot of heads with his running ability, but he threw for about a hundred more yards than he passed for last season.

"I'm a pass-first, I mean that's what quarterbacks are," said Barrett. "And then I have the ability to run. Whether you're a dual-threat, or a pocket passer, I don't think that really matters, if you're under center then I feel like you're a quarterback, whether you run or pass."

In addition to Barrett, the Raiders still have their "other" offense ready to go.

The single wing was a deadly option for the Raiders whenever the usual spread wasn't quite working.

Even with Anthony Wagner lost to graduation, coach Garfield says the Raiders still have plenty of options.

"We've got D.J. Arnold, we've got Dominic Thrasher, we've got Josh Price, we've got a lot of guys that can fit up in there," Garfield said.

The Raiders earned a #8 ranking to start the season in the AP Texas poll, but they're not even the top-ranked team in their district. That falls to Class 5A drop-down Denton Guyer, ranked #1 in the state.

That might be some ammunition for the Raiders, who said they felt a little overlooked in favor of the Dallas-area schools, both in the rankings and in recruiting.

"They usually look at the Dallas area, and Denton Ryan and Denton Guyer are always up there," said Weir. "So I feel like they do kind of put us down a little bit."