ROCKINGHAM — Three simple words were the final message to the Richmond Raider football program following its first day of spring practice on Thursday — be a leader.
Marking the official start of spring football, members of the varsity and junior varsity programs hit the practice fields for the first time, a little more than three months from the first game of the 2023 season.
Head coach Bryan Till, who enters his seventh season with Richmond, addressed the team after the last whistle. He reminded the approximately 80 players that the grind begins now and that success starts with being a team united.
The 10-day practice period, which will wrap up on May 24, has been preceded by weeks of voluntary workouts by players.
Richmond’s players have also been busy in the weight room, a characteristic familiar with Till’s philosophy to pre-season and in-season preparation.
While practice was going on, rising freshmen from area middle schools worked out with junior varsity head coach Ryan Mercer.
Broken up into position groups, players were led through a 90-minute practice that focused on fundamentals, conditioning and position-specific drills.
Returning this season as assistants are co-offensive coordinators Kemp McSween and Patrick Hope, who also serve as the offensive line and running back coaches, respectively.
Defensive coordinator Chris Campolieta is back for his second season calling the defense, with Till working with linebackers and Taivon Jones heading up the defensive line. Newcomer and former Raider Stephen Houston is in charge of the cornerbacks.
This fall will bring with it another new starting quarterback for the Raiders, their third in the past four seasons. Former quarterback Emoni McBride is set to graduate later this spring after one season under center.
Working out with quarterback coach Derrick Wiley on Thursday were rising senior Zaviar Lowry, rising junior Dillon Veach and rising sophomores Evan Hodges and Domonic Tillman.
Veteran assistant head coach Greg Williams is also back this year, serving as the wide receiver coach. Joey English, who helps with the junior varsity offensive line, was also working with players.
Players started spring practice with just helmets and shoulder pads, and Till said the primary objective is to “get better position wise each day” and have players get a grasp of a few schemes by the end of the 10 days of practice.
Continuing to build off last year’s transition season, this month’s practices are just the start to a busy summer.
Richmond has several camps and 7-on-7 scrimmages planned over the next few months before the first official day of the season on July 31.
The Richmond Observer will continue its spring coverage of the Raider football team and publish an article about Richmond’s 2023 schedule.
Below are photos from Thursday’s first day of spring practice, taken by sports editor Kyle Pillar.