ROCKINGHAM — The future of Richmond Senior High School football has been hard at work this summer to gear up for its new season.
The Raider Elite Youth Football program, which is centered around developing local talent for future high school and college play, is still looking to add to its 2023 rosters.
John Carter, the program’s director and a local business owner, explained that the program has grown over the past year, adding a 6U team to the mix.
With 95 players involved with Raider Elite Youth, there are currently 11 players on the 6U team (five and six-year-olds) but needs to add a few more.
“We really need three or four more players on the 6U team,” Carter said. “These kids have been working so hard and we really want them to have a season.”
Also needed are players for the 8U and 12U teams, especially offensive and defensive linemen.
As the only travel tackle football program in Richmond County, Carter said there is a lot of pride within the players and coaches as being a feeder program to the local middle schools and high school.
Carter is entering his eighth year involved with local youth football and formed the Raider Elite Youth in 2020.
“The majority of the high school kids (on the Richmond Raiders) have been a part of our program,” Carter shared. “Our main goal is to get kids in love with the sport early and grow them for middle school and high school.
“We want to help create winning players at the high school level and then get them into college,” he added. “We are definitely now one of the top programs in the area and we have a great class of kids coming up.
“This year, there will be an influx of our kids in middle school who will perform at a high level. The next five or six years, there should be a great feeling with football in the county.”
Interested players will be placed on a team based on their age as of Aug. 1, 2023.
The cost per player is $205, which includes the player’s jersey, pants, equipment rental, a bookbag and insurance. Payment plans and sponsorships are available to “not leave anyone out.”
A 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, Raider Elite Youth has used donations from Enviva and American Woodmark to purchase 75 new helmets and a 12-passenger van for the program this year.
Coaching the 6U and 8U teams this fall are Cater, Dustin Braddock, Chris Covington and CJ Lions.
The 10U team, which Carter called “stacked” with talent, is coached by Ricky Covington, Terry Covington, Laron Ellerbe, Eugene Flowers, Octavius Harris, Derrick Watkins and Ricky Witner.
Last season, the 10U squad won its conference championship and made the regional round of the AAU playoffs.
Heading up the 12U team are Marcus Brown, Joey Bryant, Deangelo Davis, Antonio McCoy, Brynt Moore and Terence Watkins.
This past spring, Carter and the program competed in a 7-on-7 league. The 18U team finished the season as champions, with several of Richmond’s varsity players on the team.
Among those were Chris Covington, Linden Garcia, Nicholas Griggs, Marquan Martin, K’Mauri Morgan, Keonta Pegues, Javion Smith, Domonic Tillman and Jada Zimmerman.
“Anyone who wants to donate to our program can contact me,” Carter closed. “I’m a Raider, I played here and I’m excited to be able to give back to the community and watch these kids grow.”
Carter can be reached at 910-995-0385 or via Facebook.
The Raider Elite Youth’s season will officially open on Aug. 26. Practices are held on the high school’s practice fields on Mondays and Wednesdays at 6 p.m.