Home Local Sports No. 3 Raiders look for another 4A win against struggling Hoke County

No. 3 Raiders look for another 4A win against struggling Hoke County

ROSports File Photo: Senior wide receivers Cason Douglas (2) and Chris Ellerbe (3) line up ahead of a play in last week's win over Pinecrest.
Kyle Pillar — Sports Editor.

 

ROCKINGHAM — Currently in the driver’s seat to earn a top seed in the 4A playoffs, the Richmond Raider varsity football team will look to keep its foot on the gas pedal as it heads to Raeford on Friday.

Entering its second week of Sandhills Athletic Conference play, the No. 3 Raiders will play their first unranked opponent of the season in Hoke County High School. 

As the only other 4A team in the SAC, aside from Pinecrest who Richmond beat last week, the Bucks are the last obstacle who stand in the Raiders’ way from earning the top 4A spot in the SAC.

Collecting another crucial 4A win would be “huge” for the Raiders, head coach Bryan Till said.

“We can guarantee ourselves a one seed for the playoffs (with a win),” Till explained. “That usually carries at least one additional home game with it.” 

The Raiders (4-1, 1-0 SAC) will hit the road for the first time since their second game of the season on Aug. 28. During their first two games, both on the road, Richmond averaged 44 points per game, while giving up 35 points per contest.

When asked how playing on the road impacts the team, Till said the biggest adjustment will be having to wear masks. Other than that, it’s business as usual.

“We’ll use more masks because we have to mask up on the bus there and back, so we will go through about 120 extra paper masks. Other than that, the ride isn’t too far and the field dimensions are the same, so it won’t change much.”

Having faced five ranked teams to start the season, the Raiders won’t have that added pressure when they visit a struggling Hoke County team (2-4, 0-2 SAC). The Bucks and head coach George Small began the year with two shutout wins, averaging 42 points per game, but have since lost four straight.

During that stretch, the Bucks have been blanked twice (South View and Seventy-First) and have scored just 12 combined points, while allowing 35.5 points a game on defense. Hoke County has lost to SAC opponents Scotland 52-6 and Lee County 34-6.

With the Bucks on their heels to start SAC play, Till said the Raiders won’t do anything differently in terms of how they prepare. 

“We are continuing to try and get better at what we are doing,” Till shared. “We have to control what we can.”

One thing Richmond will try to eliminate is a halftime deficit, which it has faced in each of the last three games, coming back to win two of them.

“We aren’t changing the game plan at all, but we are trying to be more effective with it early and not make mistakes to give our opponents short fields and back ourselves up with penalties,” Till explained.  

“We have gotten better in the second half with that the last couple of weeks, and when you limit your mistakes, you perform better.”

Hoke County’s offense is led by dual-threat junior quarterback Warren Avery, who is the team’s leading passer and leading rusher. Through six games, Avery is 23-for-42 through the air with 245 yards and three touchdowns

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His biggest contribution, however, is in the running game. Avery’s 62 carries for 300 rushing yards are atop the Bucks’ stat sheet, and he’s added seven scores on the ground. 

Till also expects junior Montez Stephens to line up under center for the Bucks, who is 16-for-34 for 104 yards. Combined, Avery and Stephens have thrown seven interceptions.

Also threats out of the backfield are junior running back Ethan Wallace (64 rushes, 276 yards) and senior tailback Devontre Daniels (40 touches, 220 yards, one TD). Hoke County’s leading wide receiver is senior Kamonte Williams, who has over half of the team’s total reception yards (235 yards on 15 catches).

Avery and Williams are also part of the Bucks’ return game, having returned the ball for 107 and 103 yards, respectively, on kickoffs.

“They are a predominately spread team, but will get into some similar under-center sets that we saw from Pinecrest last week,” Till said. “They play two QBs, No. 1 (Avery) and No. 5 (Stephens).  

“Both are dynamic runners and very good athletes. Also, No. 4 (Williams) at wide receiver can absolutely fly and No. 9 (Wallace) is a big, physical running back.”

Hoke County’s defense will try to slow down a speedy and elusive Richmond running game, which will see senior quarterback Kellan Hood return to the field for the first time following his career-high 164 rushing yards in last week’s win.

“On defense, No. 2 (Matthew Leach) and No. 3 (Elijah Alford) are very good athletes who are mostly at outside linebacker,” Till said. “They are predominately a 3-4 defense, but will sometimes walk those outside linebackers down into a 4-3 look as well.  

“They play multiple coverages on the back end, but will press the wide receivers a lot, which is really something we haven’t had to work against in the last couple of weeks.”

Leach’s 39 tackles and seven tackles-for-loss are both team-highs for Hoke County, while Alford has adds 16 tackles and five more for a loss of yardage. Senior Aaron Johnson has five tackles for loss and is tied with Leach for the team lead in sacks (3.0).

Second on the team in total tackles is senior defensive back Lavell Jackson, who has 25 tackles.

Richmond is 44-1 all-time against the Bucks, with Hoke County’s lone win coming in 2011. The Raiders have scored at least seven touchdowns in six of the last seven meetings with the Bucks.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. in Raeford. Tickets can only be purchased online by clicking here. Follow us on Twitter @ROSports_ for live, in-game updates.