Home Local Sports PHOTOS: Raider Elite 10U vs. Sandhills Patriots

PHOTOS: Raider Elite 10U vs. Sandhills Patriots

Derrick Watkins Jr. (24), who scored two rushing touchdowns, breaks a tackle during Saturday's win. (Kyle Pillar, sports editor)

ROCKINGHAM — From the opening drive of Saturday’s preseason jamboree scrimmage, the Raider Elite 10U football team set the tone against the Sandhills Patriots.

Taking just five plays to find the end zone following kickoff, the Raiders rolled to a 34-0 win.

The Raider Elite youth football program and director John Carter hosted the event, bringing in nine programs from across the state to compete. Richmond’s 8U team also played.

The 10U Raiders not only blanked the Patriots on the scoreboard, but they forced three turnovers and limited Sandhills to only a few first downs.

Head coach Laron Ellerbe said going into the game, the team was focused on using a strong running game to put points on the board.

“All week we talked about running downhill and being physical,” Ellerbe said. “The first three plays I knew we were going to run behind the guard and tackle. I saw then we were a little bit stronger than them, so we kept it going.

“This is the preseason so we’re still trying to figure out the pieces that will make us a complete team,” he continued. “We have a lot of talent, but the majority of our team is pretty young. Today we definitely got ahead.”

Capping the opening drive, quarterback Jaylon Liles hit wide receiver Dontae Pettigrew for a touchdown pass in the back of the end zone from nine yards out. Adding the extra point on a running play was Christian Smith.

Leading 7-0, the Raiders kicked off and recovered the live ball to set up another touchdown drive. This time, early in the second quarter, Derrick Watkins Jr. ended a long drive with a one-yard plunge up the middle.

It was the first of two rushing scores for Watkins, and Ricmond jumped ahead 14-0 following a successful conversion. Quarterback Chase Drumwright rolled out to find Mason Smith in the end zone.

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Following a fumble by the Patriots, which was recovered by Chase Crumpton, Liles and Pettigrew connected again for another touchdown, this one a 22-yard shuffle pass to the left. Liles added the extra point on a run and Richmond led 21-0.

Early in the next offensive series for the Patriots, Caleb Smith intercepted a pass to give the Raiders possession again. 

That resulted in a one-yard touchdown run by Christian Smith, aided by a successful conversion run by Maurice Harris. At halftime, Richmond led 28-0.

The second half didn’t have as much scoring, but Watkins impressed with a 35-yard touchdown run following a turnover on downs in the third stanza.

Taking the handoff, Watkins skirted around the right edge and hustled into the end zone for the final score of the game.

Stalling a late drive by the Patriots, Zy Jones made an athletic jump on a route to intercept a pass inside the 20-yard line.

“Derrick carried us a lot last year and proved today that just because he’s one of the youngest on the team, it doesn’t mean anything,” Ellerbe said. “He led the team in the backfield today with some hard running.

“Dontae stepped up strong, Christian did a great job showing progress and is a leader,” he closed. “Jaylon is an outstanding quarterback who can run and throw the ball. And Chase (Drumwright) is one of the most solid all-around quarterbacks and an excellent leader.” 

Below are photos of Saturday’s game, taken by sports editor Kyle Pillar.

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Kyle Pillar is a 16-time North Carolina Press Association award-winning sports editor with The Richmond Observer. Follow the sports department on Twitter @ROSports_ for the best in-depth coverage of Richmond County sports.