ROCKINGHAM — The crunch of shoulder pads rang out across the practice field at Richmond Senior High School on Wednesday, as the Raider football program got its first taste of competition this season.
The varsity and junior varsity teams both participated in a scrimmage against Terry Sanford High School.
Prior to play, a group of NCHSAA officials met with players and coaches and explained new rules and answered questions about their interpretations.
Following a structured format, each offense started the scrimmage with a series of 10 plays against the other’s defense. Starting at their own 30-yard line, offenses could move the ball down the field and score, but were guaranteed 10 total plays.
Both the varsity and junior varsity teams participated in this drill, which was then followed by a game-situation scrimmage and special teams drills.
“I thought it was a great scrimmage for us, Terry Sanford is a good football team,” head coach Bryan Till said. “There were some good things but also a lot of things we need to work on. We were able to identify how guys line up in different roles against another team, which was good.”
In Richmond’s first defensive series, the Raiders had a forced fumble, a quarterback sack and senior defensive back Emerson Wall intercepted a ball inside Richmond’s own 25-yard line.
Senior quarterback Emoni McBride played all 10 snaps in the first series for the Raiders on offense, who saw their final play end in a 50-yard touchdown by senior running back Taye Spencer.
The junior varsity defense kept the Bulldogs out of the end zone on its first series, and sophomore quarterback Dillon Veach connected with freshman wide receiver Terande Spencer for a score.
Sophomore linebacker Zach Gardner pressured the quarterback on the next varsity series, forcing a bad pass.
In the final offensive series, sophomore wideout Travion Smith made a leaping catch over a defender to get Richmond inside the 5-yard line. Junior quarterback Zaviar Lowry finished the drive with a short touchdown pass to freshman Jay Hamilton.
“I was impressed by some of the catches made by our receivers, which were contested plays from some of the young guys,” Till said. “Emoni’s pocket presence was also really good. We ran the ball effectively, and we’re not trying to score in a scrimmage. We’re trying to execute plays and I thought Kemp (McSween) did a good job of calling plays.
“But we missed some blocks,” he continued. “On defense we missed some calls, and had our eyes in the wrong places that gave up some big plays. But it’s good to make those mistakes earlier than during a game, and it was a big plus for us to see that in the scrimmage.”
The Raiders will scrimmage again on Friday against Dillon High School (S.C.) at Marlboro County High School as part of the Battle of the Border jamboree. Richmond will play at 8 p.m.
The team will open its season with the first of two straight home games on Friday, Aug. 19. Richmond will welcome in Mount Tabor High School at 7:30 p.m.
The Richmond Observer will publish a season preview, complete with video interviews, in the coming week.
Below are photos of Wednesday’s scrimmage, taken by sports editor Kyle Pillar.
Note: This article was edited at 7:44 p.m. on Aug. 10 to correct the name of the player in the cover photo.