44 Blitz Preview - 2021 Southridge Raiders

The sights and sounds of Southridge training camp are as traditional as Raider football itself. Head coach Scott Buening's squad is coming off another banner season, which saw them once again take home sectional and regional crowns, while coming up one game short of a return to the state title game.

Posted: Aug 2, 2021 8:03 PM
Updated: Aug 3, 2021 12:33 PM

The sights and sounds of Southridge training camp are as traditional as Raider football itself. Head coach Scott Buening's squad is coming off another banner season, which saw them once again take home sectional and regional crowns, while coming up one game short of a return to the state title game.

"We had a very senior-laden group," says Buening. "We had a lot of seniors. Had a lot of guys who were passionate about Raider football. We had some guys who were two of three year starters, just playing for the school, playing for the community. It was a really rewarding season."

"Last year was pretty exciting," says Southridge senior strong safety Kaden Neukam, "being able to do that and our senior class did a great job of carrying us all the way and being great leaders."

"Even during when every one was in quarantine," says Southridge senior running back/linebacker Aiden Jochem, "we were talking to each other, sending each other workouts. Just a lot of hard-working guys and great memories."

However, there's no time for reveries, as a Raider team that's coming off a 13-and-1 season must re-load on the run, as they've lost several key players. On offense, running and gunning quarterback Chase Taylor, and the dynamic duo of Matt Springer and Camden Gasser, who combined for more than 21-hundred yards rushing and 44 touchdowns, have all graduated.

"Levi Neukam is a junior," says Buening. "He's grown up at that position. He's had a lot of snaps of the last couple years. He's had a good summer so far. Aiden Jochem has been a two year starter for three years for us. He's a pre-season all-state kid. He's a great leader. He's strong. He's fast. He's athletic. Reid Schroeder has started at outside linebacker for us as a sophomore last year. He's going to get time in the backfield too."

"I see a lot of guys who are hungry," says Jochem. "They see their opportunity and they want to come out here and establich themselves as Raider football players."

Southridge's defense also has holes to fill. However, Buening has a great foundation in safety Kaden Neikam and inside linebacker Hunter Eckert.

"Those two are kind of the quarterbacks of our defense," says Buening. "They may not be the namesake guys, but they have gotten a lot of playing time. Kaden started last year as a junior at free safety as well. We've got some experience back in some key positions."

"We definitely have a lot of spots to fill," says Neukam. "We're just a young team overall and it's going to take a lot of maturity and working as a team and communicating to do well this season."

But while there's plenty of new faces in new places at Southridge this season, somehow, some way, the Raiders always find their way into the championship chase.

"When you have 40 kids something else that are willing to come out at 5 AM and lift and run," says Jochem, "and then go lift and run on their own, that's how you make something special."

"Since we've been very young," says Neukam, "we've always been taught integrity, hard-work, never giving up. We all do such a good job at it. The coaches do a really good job of forcing us to stay on our game and pay attention."

"Our program has had four state title appearances and all four have been with different head coaches," says Buening, "so that's not the common thread. It's the community, the players, it's the families. It's these assistants that have grown up playing Raider football and eating, sleeping, drinking it, living it. That's what has helped us stay pretty consistent over the years."

The Raiders open up the season on the road at Linton-Stockton Friday August 20th.

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We headed out to cloudy skies and some damp conditions this morning across the Tri-State. We've been tracking scattered showers for the first part of the day. While it’s been mostly cloudy, there will be some sunshine as soon as we get the rain out of the area. Temperatures are still expected to reach unseasonably warm values this afternoon. With some sunshine and winds out of the southwest highs should have no problem reaching the upper 50s and lower 60s. Clouds will clear out, but the southerly wind flow will keep overnight lows in the low to mid 40s. Tomorrow morning won't be all that bad considering it will be December 2nd.
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