Winfield's offense did some nice things last season, scoring only 26 points fewer than the previous season, which featured Gaydosz, the school's first 1,000-yard rusher in more than two decades, and record-setting place-kicker Andy Ellington.
Toby Show threw for 1,507 yards and 14 touchdowns, with 48 of his connections going to Chris Turner for 656 yards and six scores. Lewis rumbled for 1,281 yards and five TDs.
But the players who remain know they could have been so much better had Richardson just stayed upright.
"It was tough,'' Show said. "He was going to be our speed back last year, and having him go down right before the season was heartbreaking - right before he even got to play a game. We knew how tough it was after busting his butt all off-season. It was tough on all of us.''
However, having Richardson back this year to complement the passing combination of Show to Turner can only help Winfield in its quest to end a long playoff drought. The last time the Generals appeared in the postseason was 2005 when they were a Class AA school, and their last winning season was 2004.
"I think everyone feels a little bit more comfortable with him back,'' Turner said. "He has experience, and he knows what he's doing. We're not throwing a sophomore or freshman in there. Experience - anywhere you can get it on the field - helps, so we're happy to have him back for sure.''
Show said the out-of-season drills in June and the preseason practices so far have been "a lot different'' with Richardson in tow on both offense and defense, where he mans the "spur'' position, a safety-linebacker hybrid.
"You're not worrying about having someone not know what he's supposed to do back there,'' Show said, "and not worrying about telling them what they have to do. He has a lot of experience playing there and he'll catch some balls out of the backfield this year, too.''
During his long road to recovery, Richardson drew motivation from his family and teammates.
"My family helps out a lot,'' he said, "and my teammates push me every day, so it helps to come back and play with them. It killed me sitting out all of last season.
"I just want to be the best I can be, to come back really good.''
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickr...@wvgazette.com.