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PHOTOS: Raiders ‘learning how to compete and make adjustments’ in first 7-on-7, lineman challenge

Tate Craven (right) knocks the ball loose during Thursday's scrimmage, which was caught for an interception by Keidreion Crump (left). (Kyle Pillar, sports editor)

ROCKINGHAM — The first opportunity to see the offseason’s development and progression in action came Thursday for the Richmond Senior High School football program.

Not only was it the team’s first 7-on-7 scrimmage and lineman challenge of the summer, it was also the first bit of live football for the Raiders under first-year head coach Brad Denson.

White paint lined the crisp grass of the upper practice field at the high school as Richmond hosted E.E. Smith High School for a 70-minute workout.

The excitement on the practice field and at the lineman area was almost tangible as the Raiders put on a show for a large crowd of community members, boosters and district personnel. 

Wednesday’s scrimmage was broken into four segments — the first two segments featured non-driveable sets of downs made up of 10 plays, then five plays, rotating on offense and defense. 

The first segment used first and second-string players, while the second segment allowed for second and third-string players to sub in and out.

Going back to 10 plays on both sides of the ball for each team in the third segment, the Raiders and the Golden Bulls could drive the length of the 40-yard practice field. 

Capping the morning workout was a 25-minute simulated game. Teams had four plays to reach a “first down” 20 yards downfield, with an additional four plays added on for a chance to score if the first down was reached.

A defensive highlight during the third segment for Richmond was four interceptions on consecutive downs. Rising senior Keidreion Crump had two of them, the first one a leaping grab over the middle of the field.

Rising senior Jarah Cook cut a route and picked the ball for the second interception and  turned up field despite having his helmet pulled off.

Rising junior Tate Craven created the next interception when he broke up a completion and created a tip drill, which found Crump amongst a hoard of Raider defenders. Ending the successive run of picks, rising junior Terande Spencer grabbed a high pass in open space.

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During the 25-minute scrimmage, the Raiders defense started with a pick-six on third-and-10 thanks to rising freshman CJ Covington.

On offense, Richmond alternated rising junior quarterbacks Domonic Tillman and Evan Hodges. Tillman’s first drive ended with an interception on third down.

The Golden Bulls converted for a first down to start their next offensive series, but Richmond made a goal-line stand. 

Rising senior Chris Covington broke up a pass attempt on third down and rising senior and reigning Sandhills Athletic Conference defensive player of the year Joe Parsons nearly picked the ball at the goal line, which turned the ball over on downs.

Hodges just took two plays to move the ball across the first-down line on the Raiders’ second offensive drive. 

On second-and-goal from the 11-yard line, Hodges threw a perfect pass to rising junior Jayden Hamilton, who soared above the defensive back to haul in a loud touchdown catch inside the front left pylon.

Richmond held E.E. Smith to a four-and-out on the next set of downs. With the game clock winding, Tillman made two completions on third downs, the latter ending with a touchdown pass to rising junior Keonta Pegues in the back right corner of the end zone for the final play.

The Raider football program will help with the Dannell Ellerbe FUNdamentals camp Saturday and get two more days of work next Tuesday and Wednesday.

Richmond will host another 7-on-7 and lineman challenge Thursday, June 27. Scheduled to compete are Chambers, Douglas Byrd, St. Pauls and McBee (S.C.) high schools. The event will start at 10 a.m.

Below are photos of Wednesday’s 7-on-7 scrimmage and lineman challenge, taken by sports editor Kyle Pillar.