Football Preview 2016: Returning players give Yellow Jackets reason for optimism

FRONT ROYAL – Randolph-Macon Academy coach Frank Sullivan is optimistic about the upcoming season.

The Yellow Jackets have a lot of returning starters from a team that just missed the playoffs last year.

“I expect them to play with great effort, and right now for the third day in they’re executing at a point where we’re usually not at right now,” Sullivan said in an interview last week. “We’re throwing a lot at them and they’re taking it all in. I have high expectations for them on and off the field.”

Sullivan said there were a number of players battling for spots on the offensive line. He said that seniors Gery You-Ghosal and Dennis Ponn were two of the players expected to lead the way on the offensive line.

One area where the Yellow Jackets should be strong is at quarterback. Senior Corban Ruch is back after missing most of last season with an injury. He threw for 68 yards last year before being sidelined by an injury.

“He’s really grown with his ability to throw the ball and his speed,” Sullivan said. “He’s just a leader on and off the field.”

Senior Jeffrey Collins and junior Miles Gilmore will be getting the bulk of the carries. They combined for 491 yards rushing and four touchdowns last year.

Ruch will have plenty of targets to throw to this season in R-MA’s spread offense. Sullivan said he wants to use around eight receivers, and be able to rotate guys in and out. Seniors Alex Ndongo-Seh and So So Eke-Spiff are two of the team’s top returning receivers.

Sullivan said that senior Tanyi Makia and juniors Rhamel Brewer and Awungarac Ngosong will be expected to lead the way on the defensive line.

Senior Alex Blell will be a big factor at linebacker. Blell had 65 tackles last season to lead the Yellow Jackets.

“He does whatever the team needs him to do. He’s just an all-around good guy,” Sullivan said. “He controls the whole front for us.”

Sullivan said that Gilmore and junior Gabe Dubin will also be playing at linebacker. Sullivan said that Ndongo-Seh, Collins, junior Ed Loolo and Christian Pierce will be in the secondary.

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com