ROCKINGHAM — An almost palpable sense of intensity surged across the football practice fields at Richmond Senior High School on Wednesday morning.
The Raiders hosted their second 7-on-7 scrimmage of the summer, using it as an opportunity to get better, according to head coach Bryan Till.
Visiting Richmond were Forest Hills, Seaforth and St. Pauls high schools. Like last week’s event, each team scrimmaged one another for 25 minutes on a 40-yard field.
The offensive and defensive lines battled it out on the upper practice field, competing in a series of drills and strength competitions.
Till explained that more aspects of Richmond’s triple option and play-action offense were implemented this week. He also said the scrimmages served as a way for players to correct mistakes ahead of the season.
“We are still getting a lot of guys reps and stuff that counts,” Till said. “We busted a couple of coverages but it’s good that we learn that here and not on a Friday night. We have to make sure as coaches we’re pointing that out and not getting upset about it.
“We had some great opportunities to learn from today and that’s the biggest positive,” he added. “We played some good quality teams and gave us the opportunity to learn what we should do and how we should respond.”
The Raiders opened their first scrimmage against Seaforth and had five offensive series and four defensive series. Richmond found the end zone on all five drives and stopped the Hawks each time.
Continuing to split reps at quarterback, senior Zaviar Lowry and sophomores Evan Hodges and Domonic Tillman took turns under center.
On his two drives, Lowry threw two touchdowns. His first was in the back corner to sophomore Amer Morrison and the other was a fourth-down score over the middle to junior Travion Smith.
Hodges also threw two touchdowns, connecting with senior Javian Drake on a crossing route and senior Rondell Neal on a short toss on fourth down. Tillman threw a long score to senior Braxton Jenks, who maneuvered around defenders down the right sideline.
The defense forced three turnovers on downs and junior defensive back Keidreion Crump intercepted a pass on the third series.
“We’re still developing and we split the reps as evenly as possible with different groups,” Till said of the quarterback competition. “That will help us get a feel for it. Unfortunately, nobody is separating himself right now. That’s not that they’re doing bad, it’s just somebody’s not stepping up and being like ‘man, that’s it.’”
Richmond faced St. Pauls in its second scrimmage and managed to only find the end zone one time. Tillman threw a score to Drake, which tied him with Neal for the most receiving scores on the day.
Against Forest Hills, Richmond struggled on both sides of the ball, allowing the Yellow Jackets to score on all four of their drives. Two of those scores came on the first play of the respective series.
Three of Richmond’s offensive series ended in interceptions — two by Tillman and another by Lowry on the final play of the scrimmage.
Lowry and Hodges each threw one touchdown against Forest Hills, starting with Lowry dumping off a short pass to Neal from inside the 10-yard line. Hodges found senior Jada Zimmerman in the front corner of the end zone from near midfield.
“Today we put in some more triple motions that will become triple run,” Till explained. “But we passed out of it, so it’s the same look. We wanted to work two-back and motions two stuff today.
“The toughness was there today and the kids wanting to compete was there. We have to learn how to do that, there was a little bit too much talk. We addressed that at the end. What we do is respond the right way and (7-on-7s) are a great way to correct that now.”
The Raiders will host one more 7-on-7 scrimmage this summer on July 13 at 10:15 a.m.
Below are photos of Wednesday’s 7-on-7 taken by sports editor Kyle Pillar.