Blue Ridge will enter the 2013 season as the reigning VISAA Division II State Champs, meaning the Barons not only have a title to defend, but a target on their backs as well.
"People know we won a state championship, I mean it's no secret," head coach Orlando Patterson explained. "Obviously we're out here in the woods and we do what we do but I think everyone knows we have a reputation now and we have to hold onto that reputation."
"I mean I feel good being the targeted school," senior Ryan Etheridge added. "It just makes us work that much harder and hopefully get another one this coming year."
Etheridge is part of an offensive line that's as big as Blue Ridge has had the last few seasons, which bodes well for a productive run game.
"We do have some size up front, I think we're averaging around 250-260 (pounds) or so. It goes a long way," Patterson said.
"Be able to block any and everyone," senior Nate Johnson said of the offensive line's mission. "So if we want to run the ball we can, if we want to throw the ball in the air we can protect the quarterback. Nobody's going to touch him this year."
And that quarterback is returning senior Tristan Allen. The lefty is expected to connect early and often this season with receiver PJ White, a tandem that should excite Blue Ridge fans.
"With the arm Tristan has and the hands and the height and how much of an athlete PJ is, they have a great connection right there," Etheridge said.
If all those things click in 2013, Etheridge and the Barons could very well find themselves back in the state title game.
"Definitely, that's our goal. Seniors, that's our goal is to have another ring on our fingers and to repeat again," Etheridge said.