INDIANAPOLIS – It may have very well been another number they would be chasing had it not been for a spirited second half comeback.
But in the end a 27-point halftime deficit was cut to 12, yet the letdown for Ritter in the Class 2A state title game was no less painful. This was a team, after all, which had steamrolled through its first 14 games of the season with only one opponent staying within ten points only to watch a state championship dream end with a loss to Fort Wayne Luers in the title game 40-28.
So when Ty Hunt started his first and only week of two-a-day practices for the 2013 season, only one number was on his mind.
“We’ve got to find 14 points,” said Hunt-adding two points to the loss total to the Knight, which would have given Ritter the victory.
The quest for that is readily accepted by many of the players who saw their goal end one step short of completion.
“That’s our big thing, we want to be 14 points better than last season,” senior lineman Dylan Faulkenberg-and there will be weapons on offense to do it.
Quarterback Jake Purichia and wide receiver Jake Hagan are among the five returning offensive players who helped the team put up 49 or more points in 10 of the Raiders’ 15 games in 2012. They, like the rest of the team, will find their motivation from the title game since their 28 points was the team’s lowest output of the season.
“It’s definitely in the back of our minds, it’s definitely our driving force for this season and return,” said Hagan. “We’re out here working hard every day to definitely make another run.”
Of course the biggest question is exactly how to make up those “14 points”-the narrow gap that kept Ritter from a state championship the year before. While a number of skill positions return to this year’s Raider team, they team will have to replace a majority of the line and eight starters on defense.
In the early going, Hunt points to simple execution as being the key thing to picking up a slight advantage.
“It’s just continuing to create good habits at practice and continue to work on those little things that are going to get us there,” said Hunt.
Fourteen points to get where they want to be in the end.