The Richmond Raiders have taken the first step toward putting together the squad that will begin play in the franchise’s sixth season of professional indoor football. Three veterans of Coach James Fuller’s offense have signed contracts to return to the team in 2015. Wide receiver Gerron “Scooby” Bryant, quarterback Phil Konopka, and fullback Kenny Jones will form the core of the Raiders’ offensive attack next year.
Bryant, a fourth year pro out of Catawba, was the Raiders’ second leading receiver in 2014 and had career highs with 44 catches, 489 yards, and 10 touchdowns. He caught the game tying touchdown on a spectacular leaping catch with 13 seconds remaining against Lehigh Valley June 6, and closed the season with back to back two touchdown performances.
“Scooby has been a player that has improved each year we have had him, and his role on the team keeps expanding,” Fuller said. “He is a vital part of our offense, whether it is in the screen game or going deep. He also has great kick return ability which has helped our special teams.” Indeed, Bryant was a top-3 return man in the PIFL, averaging 24.7 yards per return. His speed and athleticism often gave the Raiders a short field following a kickoff.
“We’re looking for him to have a break out year which we know he is capable of having,” Fuller continued. The coaching staff and Raiders fans are looking forward to many more celebratory backflips after Bryant’s touchdowns!
Konopka made his professional debut for the Raiders last season after setting career passing records at Endicott College. He led the team on a four game winning streak to put them back in playoff contention, a status they held until the last game of the year. He was named the Week 9 PIFL Offensive Player of the Week following the Raiders’ 55-33 win over the Harrisburg Stampede, on the strength of a five touchdown (four pass, one rush) performance. The Raiders acquired Konopka in an early season trade, and Fuller believes he can experience even more success in a full 2015 season.
“Because we did struggle early in the year at QB it was important to sign Phil back and give him the chance to have a full training camp with us,” he said. “He got thrown into the fire during the season and never really got a chance to learn in camp which I think would have helped him last year. He has very good pocket presence and composure and has all the throws you want from a QB. We are looking for big things from him this year.”
Jones excited the Raiders’ coaches after demonstrating great versatility at UT-Martin, and delivered on his potential in his rookie season. He was third among PIFL fullbacks in rushing yards and touchdowns, contributed to the passing game with receptions in six games, and provided protection as a blocking back. He had a career day against Harrisburg on May 24, setting season highs with 11 carries, 75 yards, and three touchdowns. “The running game is a big part of our offense so having a runner like Kenny back is huge for our offense,” Fuller stated. “His ability to catch the ball out of the backfield as well as run the ball makes him tough to game plan against. We must get Kenny involved a bit more this year to be successful especially in the red zone.”
In addition to signing returning players to the 2015 roster, the Raiders are looking for additional players who can make an impact on the team. Open tryouts will be held on Saturday, October 18 at Sports Reality, the Raiders’ brand new 50,000 square foot indoor practice and training facility. To register, prospective players should visit the Tryouts section of the Raiders’ website by going to RichmondRaidersProFootball.com and clicking the Tryouts button.
The Raiders will return to the Richmond Coliseum for their sixth season in the spring of 2015. Season tickets are available now at discounted prices. Call 804-780-0430 to reserve your seats! Check RichmondRaidersProFootball.com for more information on the team’s offseason appearances and activities including the forthcoming schedule announcement.