ATLEE, Va. (WWBT) - The old Capital District features Highland Springs, Henrico and Varina, but 2018 saw Atlee get back into the conversation.
The Raiders struggled in 2017, but did not stay down for long. They flipped their record from 3-7 to 7-3 in the regular season, including a 5-0 start, and earned a playoff berth.
“It gives us a good stepping stool into this season,” said Atlee senior wide receiver and cornerback Alex Oliver. “[There are] a lot of things that we could’ve done better to make us go farther, so it’s good that if we correct those things, we can propel us farther in the playoffs.”
“Coach (Matt) Gray has preached his culture,” added senior quarterback Tyler Warren, who also plays defensive back and punter. “I think last year was the first year we really got it going and this year it’s kept going and I think that will be a big help for us in the season.”
Warren headlines the Atlee roster, a Penn State commit who will play tight end at the college level. He’ll finish up his senior season at quarterback, however, along with his usual defensive and special teams roles.
“He’s the truest definition of a football player I think I probably have ever coached,” said head coach Matt Gray.
“I really just try to do everything the best I can and if [my teammates] see that, they practice harder,” Warren said. “It just makes the whole practice and game flow nicely.”
“He’s a guy that’s a high character guy,” praised Oliver. " He’s going to push you and he’s always going to have your back no matter what."
Warren initially committed to Virginia Tech to play quarterback, but re-opened his recruitment and was lured by the Nittany Lions. With that process behind him, he can now focus on writing the final chapter of his high school career.
“Coming out, practicing hard everyday, not loafing, giving all of your effort... that’s how I want it to end,” hoped Warren.
“Our commitment to him is ‘we’re going to coach you really hard and push you,'” added Gray. “You’ve got one last year with us. How much better can we make you? How much better can you get?”
With the senior signal caller at the helm and some solid experience back, the Raiders know that their path to success in 2019 is in their hands.
“That’s all up for us to determine,” said Oliver. “We don’t really know what’s going to happen, but if we do the right things, I could say the ceiling is pretty high.”
Atlee kicks off its season at home against Deep Run on September 6.
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