Yellow Jackets sharpening their stingers for 2014

Posted on Thursday, September 4, 2014 at 11:13 am

After a season of fighting, battling, rushing and defending their way to within grasp of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference title, the Randolph-Macon Yellow Jackets saw 2013 slip away on Day Field in a last-minute loss to arch-rival Hampden-Sydney.

Randolph-Macon players complete blocking and tackling drills during practices last week. The Jackets return strong defensively in 2014 but it could take some time to make the offense click.

Randolph-Macon players complete blocking and tackling drills during practices last week. The Jackets return strong defensively in 2014 but it could take some time to make the offense click.

One would believe that would provide all the motivation necessary to return stronger in 2014. But the Jackets and their head coach, Pedro Arruza, entering his 11th season, as a program, don’t need that. The drive to be the best has long been established.

The drive to make young men into better men is even stronger.

“Being here 11 years, I’ve been able to establish a program with good coaches and good kids. We tell recruits you come here to get a good education, you come here to become a better man. We want young men who will buy into that,” Arruza explained.

Buying in will not be a problem for returning senior quarterback Zac Naccarato. Naccarato, who threw for 1,570 yards and 12 touchdowns last year, will be counted on to be a leader on and off the field.

“As a person, as a competitor, as a football player, Zac may be the hardest working kid I’ve ever had,” Arruza said. “He’s been bought in since day one, watches a lot of film, and is a student of the game. If the other quarterbacks were wise, they’d spend a lot of time with him and learn from him.”

Leadership, and improvement, from Naccarato is important for the offense, as the Yellow Jackets must replace Will McGhee at running back. McGhee rushed for a school record 1,676 yards en route to winning several prestigious awards last year. The next leading rusher, returning junior John Byrd, had 306 yards, but seven touchdowns.

The roster behind Byrd is deep; the question will be who steps up to help handle the load.

Read the full story in the Sept. 4 Herald-Progress. Call (804) 798-9031 or signup online to subscribe today.

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