ROCKINGHAM — Ten days of spring practice are in the books for the Richmond Senior High School football program.
Wednesday concluded the non-tackling practice period, the first real push for the Raiders heading into the 2023 season.
With just under three months until the first Friday night kickoff of the season, seventh-year head coach Bryan Till and his coaching staff were focused on implementing “a lot of new things” on offense and defense.
Among the top priorities for the Raiders this spring and summer will be to find a new starting quarterback following the graduation of Emoni McBride.
The hunt for the starter under center will be the third change in the past four seasons for Richmond. Prior to McBride in 2022, former player Kellan Hood quarterbacked the team for two seasons.
Over the past 10 practices, rising senior Zaviar Lowry and rising sophomores Evan Hodges and Domonic Tillman have kept the competition healthy. No definitive starting quarterback has been announced.
“I feel pretty good about it,” Till said of spring practice. “There are still a lot of questions to be answered and we have time over the summer to do that. The quarterback situation has a lot of competition and our 7-on-7 reps will help us.
“Especially with the guys who have been out, we were able to get a lot of depth work,” he continued. “We have a lot more guys who understand what we’re trying to do right now than we did this time last year. They understand overall schemes, and we have to get better, absolutely.”
In the early stages of the new season, the Raiders’ offense has started working with the triple option. During Wednesday’s practice, all three quarterbacks took reps in game-like situations. A revolving door of tailbacks and slot receivers also participated.
Working with the offense were co-offensive coordinators Patrick Hope and Kemp McSween, along with quarterback coach Derrick Wiley.
“It was like a light switch, all three guys grasped the offense pretty quickly,” Wiley said of the quarterbacks. “We have some small things to work on as far as the reads, but I like their leadership. They’ve grown in that aspect and right now we’re focused on executing and understanding what’s going on.
“The main quote for us is to be smooth, be smart and be sharp. They did well with their progressions, reading the first level of the triple option and understanding who’s the pitch guy. We want to be consistent in our reads, understanding our first level and pitching off the second level and throwing concepts.”
Till noted there are a lot of moving parts in understanding the triple option, something that has been a focus this spring. Building personnel depth on offense and defense has also been a primary target.
“When we’re running the option, there’s all the motion and new stuff we’re doing,” Till explained. “It’s very different (from what we’ve done) and the kids are in the right place. There were multiple guys repping at slot, and there were five guys repping at tailback and they knew where to go and what to do.
“On defense we repped three guys at almost every position and they knew the calls and knew where to be at the end of spring practice. That speaks volumes about the effort the coaches and the kids have put in to learn everything.”
Till said the focus for players will shift to final exams over the next two weeks before picking up the pace in early June.
The Raiders will attend camps at Wake Forest University (June 3) and North Carolina State University (June 8) before starting summer workouts on June 12.
Below are photos from Wednesday’s spring practice finale, taken by sports editor Kyle Pillar.