After struggling for nearly the first 20 years of the new millennium, Riverwood has experienced quite a turnaround under head coach Robert Edwards.

A year after winning eight games and advancing to the state playoffs for the first time since 2013, when the Raiders had seven victories, Riverwood took its progress a step further.

Edwards, a former Georgia Bulldog and NFL standout, led the Raiders to a 10-0 regular season and the Region 6AAAAA title before the team fell to Dutchtown 31-7 in the second round of the Class 5A playoffs, finishing 11-1. He was named the region coach of the year as a result.

“We had a lot guys that contributed to the success of this team last year,” Edwards said. “We lost a lot on defense; eight out the 11 starters on defense were seniors. The defense was tops in the state and nation. Any time you lose that kind of production, it will affect that next year’s team. On offense we lost only two of the 11 starters but they were key leaders for our team.

“On offense we are returning guys that had the chance to gain a lot of varsity experience last year. We also have some guys who dominated at their position on defense (who) we will rely on to bring the young guys up to speed. We look to those guys to lead this team this season. We will operate as a team so there are not individuals I can say will stand alone to promote the success of the program.”

As such, Edwards didn’t list a single player when answering the Neighbor’s questionnaire, so the players mentioned in this article were included based on a reporter’s own research and information the coach provided when asked to nominate a Super Eight player.

The Raiders lost defensive lineman Kyle Kennard, who signed with Georgia Tech after helping anchor a defense that allowed only 11.4 points per game in 2019, tops in the state.

But Riverwood will be boosted by the return of senior tight end/defensive end Jonathan Brown, who led the state in sacks last year with 21 and was named MVP of Region 6AAAAA. Senior wide receiver/cornerback Khalil Anderson, whose seven interceptions ranked tied for third in the state in 2019, also is back.

The question is can the Raiders advance even farther in the playoffs this fall?

“Our goal is always to improve on the year before, but have fun and develop life lesson while we do it!” Edwards said. “We will continue to build on the foundation the teams before us have created.”

The Raiders will open the season Sept. 18 at home against rival North Springs.

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