WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – In mid-September, the Raiders sat at 1-3. However, that record was deceiving as they were defeated by Benedictine in their opener by 7 (24-17) and lost by 4 at Fitch (25-21) September 18.
Harding then ran off five wins in a row, including their Regional Quarterfinal victory over Fitch, 24-10, after trailing 10-0 at halftime.
Coach Steve Arnold begins his 10th season at the helm of the Harding football program. At Harding, not a single coach has held that position this long since Pierre Hill was the coach of the school’s program from 1930 to 1941 (12 years).
Harding will host Medina Friday, August 20 to begin the 2021 season.
2020 Record: 6-4
Coach: Steve Arnold, 10th season (57-39)
Previewing Harding’s Offense
Scoring Offense: 24.0 (35th in area)
Returning Starters: 8
Key Returnees: Mar’Rall Brown, SR/OL; Curt Dorsey, SR/WR; Dom Foster, SR/ATH; Jaques Johnson, SR/OL; Marco Patierno, SR/HB; Brysen Powell, SR/RB; Davelle Trimble, SR/OL
Key Losses: DeAveion Burgess, WR; Elijah Taylor, QB; Reggie Watson, OL
Name to watch for: Brysen Powell, RB
The offense must replace a number of key players, including the school’s all-time leading passer (Elijah Taylor), their leading pass catcher (DeAveion Burgess) and a lineman who graded 80% in Reggie Watson.
Taylor threw 173 passes a year ago and only tossed 2 interceptions. For his career, Taylor finished with 2,840 yards passing and 25 touchdowns. Burgess snagged 31 passes for an average of 12.5 yards per reception last fall (4 TDs).
“For us, it all starts up front with Mar’Rall Brown and Davelle Trimble,” Arnold said. “We also have some underclassmen in Cayden Murphy, Tamairi Jackson and Evan Fisher, who we’re also counting on. We have to be able to continue to run the football effectively.”
Senior Brysen Powell led the Raiders in rushing last year with 853 yards on 113 totes (7.5 avg) and 7 scores. He’ll be joined in the backfield by Delmar McMillian (153 yards rushing), Marco Patierno (2 rushing TDs) and Majaurice Williams (16 carries for 51 yards).
Coach Arnold says, obviously, they must replace Elijah Taylor at quarterback. He’s confident in his receiving group of Dom Foster (20 catches, 363 yards), Konyae Redd, Curt Dorsey (94 receiving yards), Devin Boss, Johnny Taylor and Tyriq Ivory to be strength of the offensive group in 2021.
Previewing Harding’s Defense
Scoring Defense: 17.2 (10th in area)
Returning Starters: 7
Key Returnees: Mar’Rall Brown, SR/DL; Curt Dorsey, SR/DB; Davonte McElroy, SR/LB; Marco Patierno, SR/LB; Brysen Powell, SR/DB; Kincaid Tyson, SR/DL
Key Losses: Chester Adams, LB; Mar’Kwuan Brown, DB; Jabari Felton, DL; Emarion Perkins, LB
Name to watch for: Marco Patierno, LB
On defense, the Raiders saw their points allowed average drop from 22.7 in 2019 to 17.2 in 2020.
Harding did lose two of their top three tacklers from last season in Emarion “Tank” Perkins and Jabari Felton. Perkins led the team in tackles with 100 (10 for a loss) and also posted 3 interceptions and 2 quarterback sacks. Felton finished with 59 tackles (12 for a loss) and a team-high 10 quarterback takedowns.
Up front on defense, Harding welcomes back Mar’Rall Brown, Kincade Tyson (9 QB sacks) and Josiah Todd (6 QB sacks). At the linebacker spots, Marco Patierno and Davonte McElroy each return for their senior campaigns. Patierno finished second with 95 tackles as he came away with 3 fumble recoveries and 4 quarterback sacks. Leading the group of defensive backs will be Curt Dorsey (26 ½ tackles) and Brysen Powell (34 tackles).