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Richmond Raiders add to roster, staff

Even though the start of the Richmond Raiders’ fourth season is five months away, the team continues to work hard to assemble a squad that can improve on 2012’s PIFL runner-up finish.  Fifty-seven hopeful players looking to be part of the 2013 roster participated in Saturday’s open tryout at the Richmond Coliseum, and a number of them at all positions made an impression on Raider head coach James Fuller.

“I’m all about getting the best players,” Fuller said.  “I want to get the best guys, then see where they fit.”

Fifteen of the players that took the Raiders to a 10-2 regular season and a berth in the PIFL Championship Game have already signed contracts for 2013.  “We have a good nucleus of guys,” Fuller said, adding that at the tryout he tried “to find the best players who are available.” Fuller acknowledged that the team’s success buoyed tryout attendance and increased competition for roster spots.  “Everybody wants to be part of a winner,” he said.

Coach Fuller, who lives out of town during the offseason, met with team ownership during tryout weekend and signed a contract officially confirming his return to lead the Raiders in 2013.

2013 will mark Fuller’s third season as the Raiders’ head coach.  Fuller led the Raiders to a 10-2 regular season record in 2012, which tied for first place in the PIFL.  Under Fuller’s guidance, the team registered its first ever wins over the rival Columbus Lions and Albany Panthers, beat every team in the league at least once, and went a perfect 7-0 at home including the playoffs.  Fuller led the team to its first ever postseason berth, beating the Louisiana Swashbucklers in the PIFL semifinal before falling to the Albany Panthers in the championship game.  The Raiders had the #1 scoring offense and the #2 scoring defense in the league, scoring over 60 points per game and allowing just 49.

Fuller is a native of Tacoma, Wash., and holds a degree in criminal justice from Portland State University, where he was a two-time All American safety. He was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in 1992 and played on that team for three seasons. Fuller also played for the Scotland Claymores, and in 1996 led NFL-Europe in interceptions. He finished his NFL career with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1996.

Coach Fuller also announced the return of two veteran assistant coaches, Defensive Coordinator Billy Jarvis, and Line Coach Joe Valvoda.

“It is great to have head coach Fuller back along with coaches Jarvis and Valvoda and to see them back in action with the open tryouts,” Raider owner Mike Fraizer said. “They are a quality group and bring strong commitment and energy.”

Billy Jarvis returns to the Raiders for his third year as an assistant coach.  Jarvis also spent time as defensive coordinator of the Richmond Speed professional arena team during 2001-2003. Jarvis played college ball at James Madison University. As defensive coordinator in 2012, his squad was #1 against the run, second against the pass and in total defense, and dominated the league in takeaways, forcing 32 opponents’ turnovers.  The Raiders’ ball-hawking defense picked off 21 passes and returned seven for touchdowns.

Joe Valvoda returns to the Raiders for his third season leading the offensive line. A four year letterman at Edinboro University (PA) and a 2004 Division II All-American, he played indoors professionally with the Green Bay Blizzard and the Richmond Bandits. He is in his eighth year as an assistant coach at Richmond’s Douglas Freeman High School. The Raiders’ O-line paved the way for a dominating rushing attack which ranked first in the PIFL in yards, yards per rush, and rushing touchdowns.  The Raiders proved they could get yardage on the ground when it counted, notching 25 rushing TDs from inside the red zone.

Fraizer commented that the coaching staff might expand before the beginning of training camp.  “We still may add one more to the coaching ranks as we move toward the season,” he said.

The Raiders will kick off their 2013 season at the Richmond Coliseum on March 16 against the PIFL’s newest team, the Charlotte Speed. Season tickets are on sale through the Raiders’ office by calling 1-855-GO-RAIDERS, 804-780-0430, or visiting  Act quickly to lock in the most savings – prices on all silver level tickets go up on November 1!

Augusta Health Augusta Free Press Kris McMackin CPA
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