ROCKINGHAM — A new era of Richmond Raider football starts this fall, and with it, Emoni McBride will take on the role as the program’s quarterback.
For the first time since the 2017 season, Richmond’s signal caller will be someone without the last name of Hood.
Caleb Hood, the team’s all-time leader in several statistical categories, started as a freshman and played three seasons (2017-19). Kellan Hood served as quarterback the past two seasons (2020-21), and the brothers now play together at the University of North Carolina.
McBride, a senior and four-year member of the Raiders, acknowledged that he has “big shoes to fill,” but smiled when he said he’s up for the challenge.
As a freshman, McBride was the junior varsity team’s quarterback and split time at the JV and varsity levels during the shortened spring 2021 season. Last fall, he made the full time jump to varsity during his junior season as a backup to Kellan Hood.
After three years of developing his game, McBride is now getting the chance to lead the offense of the historic Raider program.
“It feels great to actually get to be the captain of the offense and run the team,” McBride said. “I know I can’t do it by myself and I have a great team around me to help me do that.
“When Coach (Bryan) Till told me I was QB1, my immediate thought was to be a little bit nervous because it’s a big step from JV football,” he added. “But as the months have gone by, it’s gotten easier to understand my new role.”
When the Raiders began offseason workouts in February, Till informed McBride he’d been tasked as the team’s quarterback.
Throughout spring and summer workouts, including 7-on-7 scrimmages, McBride has pushed himself to learn everything he could about the position.
“Emoni is a kid who has done everything he’s supposed to within our program,” Till explained. “He’s kept his grades up, he’s a good athlete who’s worked hard and he’s been here and early every day this summer.
“Emoni also says the right things to his teammates, is disciplined and has the right attitude,” the sixth-year head coach added. “I’m always proud of a kid who has done all those things and we see him get a chance. I’m extremely excited for him.”
As a junior, McBride made appearances in seven of Richmond’s 12 games, a season that resulted in the Raiders’ fourth-straight Sandhills Athletic Conference championship title.
He was 8-of-12 passing for 82 yards and had one touchdown in part of a 58-0 win over Southern Lee. On the ground, McBride carried the ball 21 times for 80 yards and two scores.
Describing himself as a dual-threat quarterback, McBride said one of his biggest strengths on the gridiron is his “versatility, being able to throw the ball and run the ball to extend plays. My speed helps me do a lot of things on the field.”
Admitting that the biggest challenge over the past few months has been adapting to the speed of the varsity level, McBride credits his growth to “making faster decisions” by working with former Richmond QB, and current QB coach, Derrick Wiley.
“Coach Wiley has been fun to work with, but when it’s time to work, it’s time to work,” McBride said. “He was the quarterback here, so he knows what it’s like and how to help me. He’s really helped me a lot with my form and to be on time.
“I also learned a lot by watching and being teammates with Caleb and Kellan,” he continued. “They’re both dogs who work hard and I want to do my best to fill their shoes. They helped me see the game in a different way.”
Over the past few months, Till noted McBride’s progression has improved greatly, becoming more of a vocal leader and with his throwing abilities.
He said the 6-foot, 170-pound quarterback has been “making faster decisions, has a live arm and continues to progress and do things the right way.”
Heading into the 2022 season, Till said the Raiders’ offense won’t look much different than years past, but will be more power oriented to benefit McBride and the entire offense.
Co-offensive coordinators Patrick Hope and Kemp McSween will use “a lot more direct play calling,” but McBride will have the ability to make decisions on which routes he targets.
“My expectations for myself are really high,”McBride said. “I want to execute every play, take no plays off and make sure I’m right and help my teammates get right. The offense around me is a great group of guys, and if we stay focused, I think we can achieve great things.”
Personal goals he’s set for himself include reaching 1,000 passing yards, obtaining his first college offer and bringing home the Raiders’ first state championship since 2008.
“I expect Emoni to be Emoni,” Till closed. “He’s a great enough athlete and kid, and if he is steadily the same guy he’s been since February, he’ll do great and the rest of the job is up to the coaches.”
The Raiders will continue preseason practices and travel to Marlboro County for a scrimmage on Aug. 12. Opening the season at home against Mount Tabor, McBride will make his varsity starting debut on Aug. 19.