ROCKINGHAM — On Wednesday morning, co-offensive coordinator Patrick Hope tweeted “And on the 9th day, we scrimmage!!!”
There was a buzz on Richmond Senior High School’s practice fields as the varsity and junior varsity football teams put their talents to the test for the first time in a live game scenario this season.
Hosting Cape Fear High School, the Raiders competed for almost two hours on the practice fields against the Colts.
The varsity team followed a format of 20 plays on offense and 20 plays on defense, followed by a series of drives and red zone plays.
“(Cape Fear) gave us a lot of good work,” head coach Bryan Till said. “They were prepared and are a physical football team. We knew it was going to be a really good scrimmage for us.
“We need to get to the line a little quicker on defense and some of the sets they run we don’t run, so we’ve only walked through those,” he added. “They’re where I want them to be and they missed some calls, but they know what they missed. They’re in a position mentally to go and fix those mistakes.”
The quarterback competition between sophomores Evan Hodges and Domonic Tillman opened the day for the Raiders. Of the offense’s first 20 plays, both quarterbacks took 10 snaps.
On the first play from scrimmage, Tillman optioned right to sophomore wideout Jayden Hamilton, who went 80 yards to the house. But the score was called back on a holding penalty.
The majority of Richmond’s plays were pitches or runs for small yardage gains. Finding the end zone just one time in 20 plays, Tillman kept the option on the 13th play and burst down the right sideline for a 75-yard score.
Hodges started to move the momentum in the final stretch of plays, but a fumble on the 18th play resulted in a turnover.
When defensive coordinator Chris Campolieta’s squad hit the field for its 20 consecutive plays, the Raiders allowed a nine-play and a seven-play scoring drive. Cape Fear’s final four plays saw the Colts get across midfield for a third time.
The first series ended in a one-yard touchdown run and Cape Fear struck again with a 10-yard passing score. Richmond didn’t gather any turnovers and only forced one incomplete pass out of seven attempts.
Next, both programs started two drives at their own 20-yard line and tried to move the sticks for a first down.
Tillman started the first series, followed by Hodges in the second series. Both of Richmond’s offensive drives resulted in three-and-outs.
The Colts went the distance on eight plays on its first series, scoring on a five-yard pass. The Raiders forced a three-and-out on the next set of downs, which featured a tackle-for-loss by junior linebacker Fred Isaac III.
During the red zone phase of the scrimmage, Richmond had two drives from the 20-yard line and one drive from the 10-yard line.
Tillman fumbled on second-and-two and lost possession on the first series. Senior wide receiver Linden Garcia made a one-handed catch to start Hodges’ drive inside the 10-yard line, but the ball was turned over on a fumble on the next play.
Cape Fear had an 18-yard passing score before being stopped on the second 20-yard drive. Sophomore linebacker Terande Spencer picked up the first of his two quarterback sacks.
The Raiders’ final drive, starting at the 10-yard line, saw Tillman sacked on third down and throw an interception on fourth down.
Spencer ended the scrimmage on a high note when he recorded a strip sack on the final play.
“We feel like we made some big plays on defense, but also gave up some big ones,” Till said. “On offense, we made big plays but also turned the ball over quite a bit.
“The thing to me is who is going to protect the football,” he added. “Some of our playmakers on the perimeter are always one step away (from scoring). The first play Jay almost housed it, Jaliel (Green) is shifty, (Linden) Garcia and JV (Drake) are guys we feel good about. We just have to clean up the offense.”
Quarterbacks coach Derrick Wiley said there was a lot to take away from the scrimmage and that it was a learning experience for Hodges and Tillman.
“Today was an opportunity to grow,” Wiley said. “It was their first time seeing somebody else live and we’ll take this as an opportunity to watch film and fix some things.
“The main thing is consistency. That will allow us to be smart, be smooth and be sharp at the quarterback position.”
The Raiders will scrimmage one more time before the first game of the season and travel to Douglas Byrd High School on Friday. Richmond will face Pine Forest High School at 6 p.m.
Till said the Raiders will “adjust on the fly” during that scrimmage and use it as another to settle in before Friday night lights.
Below are photos of Wednesday’s scrimmage taken by sports editor Kyle Pillar.