Now heading into his fifth season as Ridgeway's head coach, Sutton has presided over one of the area's most successful programs in that span. But despite coming close, the Roadrunners haven't been able to get over the hump and reach the 5A state championship game.
But to a man, the Roadrunners believe 2014 will be different.
"I think we're a little more comfortable, a little more seasoned with where we are," said Sutton. "These seniors won the
D IS THE KEY
It's no secret the key to Ridgeway's success will rest with the defense. The Roadrunners gave up 29 or more points in all five of their losses last year, but Sutton is banking that the returning talent, along with a new coordinator in former Kirby head coach
"We're hearing (other people's) opinions, but we're going to hold our ground," said linebacker
Johnson, a 6-0, 200-pound junior, is poised for a breakout season after leading the team in tackles last year. Lineman Elontae Bateman has committed to Arkansas State and fellow senior
"They've even been stopping us at times," said tight end Marquette Murdock. "And I feel like if they can stop us, they can stop anybody."
If the defense can come through, this may just be Ridgeway's year. Because -- at least on paper -- the offense looks second to none.
Sutton likes to mix things up with his running game and the Roadrunners have two stars in senior
Harrison, who ran a sub-4.4 40-yard dash at a camp in
Ridgeway also has one of the best tight ends in the state in Murdock. Sutton accurately describes the 6-3, 220-pound senior as a "matchup nightmare," and his presence will open things up for receivers Katavious Johnson, who has committed to Jacksonville (Ala.) State, and Cayman Gordon.
"I think we're loaded on offense," said Murdock. "We're a run-first team but that opens things up for the passing game. Our wide receivers are so good that they (defenders) can't target me.
"We've got too many weapons."
"We've had some good success, but we're tired of getting to the quarterfinals or semifinals (and losing). We want to get a taste of some real success and we're really just itching to take that step."
A closer look at: No. 3 Ridgeway
Last season: 7-5 (lost to
Key players: TE Marquette Murdock, RB Earl Harrison, DE Terry Fultz, RB Earl Harrison, RB Lilotis Walker, DT Elontae Bateman
Season opener: Friday at
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