ROCKINGHAM – On Wednesday night, all senior players on the Richmond Raiders boys soccer team were celebrated before playing their final regular season game. They’re not the only ones, however, as head coach Bennie Howard will be calling it quits at the end of the school year.
The 13 seniors walked between their younger teammates with different members of their families out to midfield. Howard and assistant coach Chris Larsen handed each player a Raider green and gold soccer flag with each individual player’s number on it. Howard was also given a round of applause by the crowd with this being his final regular season game of his Raider boys soccer coaching career.
According to Richmond Senior High School’s records, before the game started Howard’s total win-loss record stood at 499-424-75. And even more, it was his 999th career game, and he was able to secure win number 500.
During the game, the scoring was fast and furious. Senior Victor Lucero scored four goals total on the night, including Richmond’s first three of the game. Junior Carlos Alcocer chipped in with a goal right before halftime, and then senior Brett Baucom added two goals of his own in the second half. Keeping with the senior offense, midfielder Patrick Hamilton scored to bring the Raiders total to eight.
“Scotland is a quality team, they’ve got some key players,” said Howard after the game. “We knew coming in that we wanted to get this win tonight for several reasons. One, to maybe give us a little jump-start going into the conference tournament, and there was stuff on the line tonight for that 500th win.”
Richmond will now move on to face Hoke County High School in the first round of the Sandhills Athletic Conference tournament on Monday, and Howard said the best strategy is just go out and play.
“We played Hoke strong both times (during the regular season),” the Howard said. “I’ve always said it’s hard to beat somebody three times so we’ll see what happens Monday night.”
As for Howard himself, former players during the coach’s 30-year career gathered on the field during halftime and athletic director Ricky Young presented him with a special plaque.
Howard, left, receives a plaque from Athletic Director Ricky Young to commemorate his 30-year career.
“A lot of individuals help get that so it’s not just me,” Howard said Wednesday night. “It’s 600-plus players that I’ve coached over those years with the boys.”
The junior varsity boys soccer team also defeated Scotland Wednesday night, shutting them out 5-0 to take their final record to 9-4-1 overall. Freshman Trevor Moss scored two goals, and Cole Deane made one and Luke Hawkes and Blaise Steadman also contributed a goal a piece.