It’s a new season with new challenges for Eastside football. Coming off last season’s 7-4 season and a first round exit playoffs, the Rams enter a new district. Eastside now belongs to 5A District 5. With the new district comes new opponents and the potential for new rivalries to emerge. However, for head coach Ced Daniels’ team, the goal remains the same.
The move for Eastside opens the door to new opponents that the Rams haven’t seen before. One of those teams is Clay High School. When he joined Sportscene with Steve Russell on Friday, Daniels said his first impression of the Blue Devils is that they run the ball heavily and are “heavy hitting.” He added that with Clay you can, “always look for them to be in the hunt.” When it comes to Orange Park, similar takeaway for Daniels. The Raiders are “physical and strong.” According to Daniels, what makes the adjustment more challenging is the high roster turnover. Each team graduated a significant amount of players following the 2018 season. Because of this, Daniels said most of the scouting will be done on the road, rather than on game tape.
In addition, another challenge for Daniels and his staff is getting the players motivated to face an opponent they don’t have any previous encounters with.
Despite many new opponents on the schedule, the Rams still face off against some familiar faces. They continue their rivalry with Buchholz the second week of the season. The Rams add P.K. Yonge to their home schedule. They also face North Marion at home.
Leading the Rams through this new district is senior quarterback Anthony Richardson. In 2018, Richardson threw for 1,567 yards and 17 touchdowns. His play-making abilities, both with his arm and his feet, make him one of the top talents in the area. The four-star Florida commit still has room to grow as he enters his final season wearing the green and orange. After getting feedback from his future coaches, Gators head coach Dan Mullen and quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson, it’s evident Richardson needs to focus on his mechanics. Richardson’s current head coach said he continues to see Richardson improve.
The Rams will have a young secondary, with three new starters. They also replace key leaders on the defensive side. Daniels gives an outlook on his roster heading into the 2019 season.
The Rams open the season on the road against Ocala Vanguard on Aug. 16.