PICKERING, La. (KPLC) - The past couple of seasons for the Pickering Red Devils hasn’t gone as planned. After going a combined 1-19 during that span, the team decided to make a change. Enter Ryan Russo.
“It took a little while for me to process it and determine if I was ready for it or not,” Pickering first-year head coach Ryan Russo said.
It’s Russo’s first gig as a head coach and the Red Devils have already adapted to the style he brings.
“He’s brought nothing but positivity to the program,” Pickering quarterback Braden LeBato said. “The attitude in the boys has completely changed.”
“He’s all about business,” receiver Richard Trotter said. “He doesn’t play around about his coaching and for his first year as a head coach I think he’s doing a good job.”
Pickering goes into 2019 with eight starters returning on offense. They’ll look to spread the ball out to guys such as Greg Jones and Richard Trotter as they feel speed is one of their main advantages.
“I think our personnel fits what we’re trying to do on offense really well,” Russo said. “It puts speed into space but also allows some blocking angles up front that gives us an advantage.”
Leading the way on that side of the ball will be quarterback Braden LeBato. The junior enters the season after battling back from an injury that sidelined him in 2018. He feels that he’s ready to take the reigns of the offense.
“I learned from that injury that I can’t sit out another year of football,” LeBato admitted. “I missed it too much and I worked my butt off for it so this year is going to be a different year.”
“He’s always getting everybody ready for the game and hyped up,” Pickering center Bryce McManus said. “He’s never backed down from any challenge.”
“Braden can throw the ball effectively and run the ball extremely well,” Russo said. “We’re going to use both aspects of that to our advantage. Whatever he’s comfortable doing is what we’ll do.”
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Defensively Pickering will come at opponents in a multitude of ways. The unit returns nearly half of their 2018 starters including all-district performers Anthony Woods and Richard Trotter.
“I see we’re coming together now,” Trotter admitted. “It’s just family now. These are my brothers.”
The Red Devils' mindset has changed and they plan on showing it on the field.
“These past two years have been rough,” LeBato said. “We’re looking for some wins and we’ve put in the work. We’re going to get them this year.”
“We want to build a program that’s organized, has structure, has discipline, and integrity,” Russo said. “If you have those key components then the wins and losses will take care of themselves and that’s something that can sustain through the years, not just for one season.”