Over the last couple years, you've read Elijah Taylor's name in my material quite often. The senior quarterback's name will be remembered long after his days at Warren G. Harding High School are over as he's now the owner of several passing records. That said, what about the footnotes of his career? For example, 11 of his school record 34 career touchdown passes have gone for at least 40 yards or more. What's just as impressive is that those catches were made by nine different players. The latest addition to that club is junior Konyae Redd, who took the first catch of his career 47 yards for a huge touchdown this past Friday during the Raiders' 28-24 comeback victory over Youngstown Ursuline. It provided a huge boost for a Harding squad that has fought much harder than their current 2-3 record suggest on paper.
To say the very least, 2020 has been a very unusual year for everybody. As far as the gridiron goes, Harding has dealt with numerous obstacles and misfortunes that's delayed their emergence in this shortened season. However, as the aforementioned effort by Redd suggests, it's not too late for the Raiders to make noise. As he's done throughout his entire career up to this point, Taylor will continue looking to put his teammates in the position to make plays and the more he does that, the more pressure it will take off of a defense that's done a solid job of keeping Harding within striking distance in every game. They'll look to build off of their much needed momentum as they'll look to finish the regular season strong against a team that's much stronger than their record indicates.
In week 8 of last season, Harding hosted a winless West Toronto Prep squad that gave them all they could handle. It took a huge fourth quarter, which included a clutch defensive stand in the final minutes, for the Raiders to secure a 22-14 victory over the Golden Warriors. However, while the 30-man squad (probably less than that) lacked the depth to put them over the top in any of their games, it should be noted that Prep's schedule included the likes of Cleveland St. Ignatius, Akron Archbishop Hoban, Erie Cathedral Prep, etc. In other words, the Golden Warriors came into Warren battle tested and, despite their shortcomings last season, refused to just lay down to the Raiders.
Now, thanks to yet another cancellation this season (this time, courtesy of Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary), Harding will close the season against Bishop Sycamore Innovation High School, a new prep school in Columbus that has a Warren Western Reserve alum on their coaching staff in Andre Peterson. Due to their abilty to play post graduate athletes, their school is not officially affiliated with the OHSAA. Originally, the Centurions had a schedule that included games again national powerhouses the likes of Dematha High School (MD), IMG Academy (FL), Warren Central (IN), National Christian Academy (MD), The Hun School (NJ), etc. However, the Covid-19, pandemic forced them to change their entire schedule (it still includes IMG though). That said, it certainly doesn't lack big names as they've faced Massillon, Cleveland St. Ignatius, Lakewood St. Edward, and Aurora. While they've been outscored 134-22 to date, a video clip of Josh Bogan, their 6'2" 240 pound quarterback/linebacker, went viral as he's seen delivering a vicious stiff arm durng their game against St. Ignatius. Despite their 33-6 loss to Iggy, the footage has poured a load of fuel onto the recruiting fire for Bogan and he'll look to add to his resume in Warren on Friday. Their roster also includes Youngstown natives Maleek McIntosh and Tramonte Gervins.
Harding's regular season started with a replacement opponent and now, it will end with a replacement opponent. Once again, that's 2020 in a nutshell. While certain events bring about change and life has to go on, you always have to stay prepared for what's ahead. For Harding, they'll look to finish their six-game slate in the win column as they await for the official Region 5 playoff brackets to be released later on this week.
Good luck Raiders!