ROCKINGHAM – The Richmond Senior High School junior varsity football team completed the Raider football program Sandhills Athletic Conference championship sweep Monday with its win against Seventy-First High School.
Playing Monday in a makeup game from nearly two weeks ago, head coach Patrick Hope’s squad nearly tripled the total amount of points the Falcons had allowed all season, as they remained undefeated on the season. The Raiders scored 35 unanswered points to defeat second-place Seventy-First by a final score of 35-6.
On Saturday, head coach Bryan Till’s varsity team earned its first conference title since 2010 by defeating Scotland High School 23-8, and Monday’s victory marks the third-straight crowning for the JV Raiders. Under Hope’s direction the last two seasons, Richmond (9-0, 6-0 SAC) is now 19-0 with two conference championships.
Heading into the night, the Falcons (7-1, 4-1 SAC) had only allowed a total of 13 points to be scored against them in the first seven games of the season. They were outscoring their opponents 253-13, but that didn’t matter to Raider sophomore running back Jaron Coleman, as he single-handedly scored 18 points on three rushing touchdowns, finishing the night with a game-high 158 yards on 16 carries.
“This was a pretty good game tonight and we’ve been preparing for Seventy-First for a while now,” Hope said after the title-clinching win. “We knew our paths would cross eventually, and our guys had to be ready, and they were. To be able to come out here and clinch the championship on a Monday night (after playing Thursday) is really special.”
Seventy-First would be the first team to break into the scoring column, as a Richmond three-and-out on its opening drive resulted in a Mack West punt attempt from his own 36-yard line. The punt was blocked and the bouncing ball trickled back near the end zone where Falcon freshman Twan Anderson scooped it up and crossed the goal line. Seventy-First opted to go for two, but sophomore quarterback Donovan Wright was stopped short, holding the lead to 6-0 with 7:40 on the clock.
Hope’s Raiders would respond by scoring on three of their next four possessions to close out the first half. Coleman was responsible for all three touchdowns, as his running game pushed the Raiders to a 21-6 halftime lead. After the hiccup on special teams, Coleman and freshman quarterback Kellan Hood captained a seven-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that gave Richmond the only lead it would need to win.
Coleman had 43 yards on the ground during the drive, while Hood added nine rushing yards and connected with sophomore wide receiver Tremel Jones on a 14-yard hookup to put the Raiders in the red zone. The drive ended with Coleman bursting up middle from 15 yards out to cross the goal line. West tacked on the first of his five point after attempts to give Richmond a 7-6 lead with 5:44 to go in the opening frame.
Good field position helped the Raiders capitalize two drives later, as they started at the Seventy-First 35-yard line. In just five plays and 2:04, Coleman found pay dirt, this time from 10 yards out. Sophomore tailback Daveion Campbell got in on the action during the drive, collecting 30 rushing yards to set up Coleman’s score.
After the Falcons went for it on fourth-and-29 on the following drive, Richmond got even better field position deep in Seventy-First’s territory. Starting at the Falcon 24-yard line, a pass interference penalty resulted in a first down at the 12-yard line. Consecutive runs of nine and three yards by Coleman gave the Raiders a15-point lead at intermission.
Jaron Coleman (22) celebrates on of his game-high three touchdowns.
“It’s always been about the guys up front, the hogs on the offensive line,” Hope said of Coleman’s success. “Coach (Kevin) Alfonso does a great job with those guys, and Jaron trusts them with the numbers he’s put up this year. We knew that if we flipped the script on (the Falcons) tonight in the running game, they would start to cave.”
Richmond’s defense, led by first-year defensive coordinator Chris Campolieta, held the Falcons to just 38 total yards on 21 plays in the second half. Their three drives resulted in a punt, a turnover on downs and the clock expiring at the end of the game. On the night, Richmond limited Seventy-First to just 132 total yards of offense (led by Wright’s 49 rushing yards), while Coleman, Hood and company racked up 342 yards of total offense.
An interception by Hood to Mendez Lucas stalled the Raiders’ first drive of the second half, but he rebounded with a couple of big pass plays a couple of minutes later. Three straight Campbell runs for 27 combined yards started the seven-play, 65-yard scoring drive, with Hood finding Jones for a 10-yard pickup on the next snap.
Coleman wouldn’t go away, as a 29-yard burst put the Raiders at the Falcon’s 22-yard line. The interception was redeemed when Hood lobbed a pass to sophomore wide receiver Jarod Morrison a play later for a touchdown, his lone passing score of the game.
Up 28-6 with over 14 minutes remaining in regulation, Richmond would end things with a 13-play, 6:27 drive in the fourth quarter that cemented the victory. Campbell was rewarded for his hard work with a four-yard touchdown run to his left, which was set up by a drive-extending 31-yard catch by Jones on fourth-and-14 a couple of plays prior.
Hood finished the night 7-of-12 passing with 118 yards through the air and linked up with Jones four times for 85 yards. Morrison was the only other Raider receiver to haul in a pass, as he finished with three receptions for 33 yards. Campbell’s fourth-quarter score was complemented by his 71 rushing yards on 14 attempts.
The Richmond junior varsity program is now 71-4 overall since 2011, with two of those four losses coming to rival Scotland in the conference title game. The Raiders have won the conference crown in the five other seasons dating back to 2011 (2012-2014 and 2016-2018).
“I’m proud of everything our players have done to get to this point,” Hope concluded. “A lot of the teams I’ve been around that have been successful have made the decision to be great and do their part long before they stepped on the field. It’s happened night after night with this team, and it’s always someone new who has stepped up. It’s great to see them develop and it’s exciting to see what they can do to help the program in the future.”
The final game of the 2018 junior varsity season is just a couple days away, as Richmond will play its third game in eight nights at home against Purnell Swett High School Thursday. Kickoff against the Rams is set for 6:30 p.m.