Home Local Sports Raiders Football has Conference-Best 11 Players Named to All-SAC Team

Raiders Football has Conference-Best 11 Players Named to All-SAC Team

Richmond freshman quarterback Caleb Hood (left), senior running back Dante Miller (center) and senior kicker Victor Lucero (right) were among 11 Raiders named to the 2017 All-SAC team.
Photo courtesy of Jimmy McDonald.

ROCKINGHAM – Though its season may have ended a month ago, the Richmond Senior High School varsity football team is headlining this year’s 48-player Sandhills Athletic Conference all-conference team.

And by headlining, the Raiders had an SAC-best 11 players selected to this year’s team.

Per SAC regulations, the All-SAC team isn’t released until all conference teams are eliminated from the state playoffs. Upon Scotland High School’s 30-22 loss to Harding University High School (Charlotte, N.C.) in Saturday’s 4A State Championship title game, the 2017 squad was released late Saturday night.

Richmond had six offensive players selected (a conference-high number), as well as three defensive and two special teams players. Scotland wasn’t far behind with 10 total selections, splitting with five players named on each side of the ball.

Among the players featured on offense that averaged 36.3 points per game in the regular season, and scored at least 45 points five times, were freshman quarterback Caleb Hood, senior running back Dante Miller and junior wide receiver Malik Stanback. Tight end Gordon Pihl was also selected. It was the first all-conference selection for these players.

The only two Richmond players named to the 2017 team that had been named previously were offensive linemen senior Daryn Mason and junior Jake Ransom. Both were key parts to an eclectic offensive line that protected Hood and gave Miller running lanes.

Richmond offensive lineman Daryn Mason (55).

Richmond offensive lineman Jake Ransom (75).

Seniors defensive lineman Delon Wall, linebacker Jaquan Everett and cornerback Tony McRae were the three defensive players named to the team. Earning selections for special teams were senior kicker Victor Lucero and specialist Kaleb Douglas.

“I definitely felt they were all more than deserving,” head coach Bryan Till said of his players’ selections. “We can only nominate, but the other coaches who game plan against them respected these young men enough to vote for them and place them on this team.

“It speaks volumes about their play and how they carry themselves in order to earn that respect,” Till continued. “As far as our program, there are some underclassmen here that it is clear we can build off of.”

Hood, who had a standout freshman season under center, was an integral part of Richmond’s offensive success this season. He finished the season with 2,095 passing yards, and was a dual threat, as he threw for 16 touchdowns, while rushing for five more.

In his rookie campaign, Hood accrued a 109.9 quarterback rating, and tied the program’s record for most completions in a game with 24 against Scotland in the regular season finale. In the same game, he passed for 423 yards, which is a couple yards shy of surpassing the school’s all-time record. Hood averaged 190.5 passing yards and 12.1 completions per game.

Miller, who recently committed to play at James Madison University on a full scholarship, had a breakout year as a senior. He amassed 1,327 yards on 158 carries, and found the end zone 19 times on the ground. Miller is noted for his speed and strength, and averaged 120.6 yards per game this season.

Perhaps most impressive, Miller rushed for over 100 yards in seven of the Raiders’ 11 regular season games. His longest run of the season was an 88-yard sprint against Seventy-First High School on October 27.

Stanback, who progressively became more and more essential to Richmond’s winning recipe, led the team with 34 receptions and a team-high 751 receiving yards, and tacked on five receiving touchdowns. Stanback also led the Raiders in receiving yards per game (75.1) and yards per reception (22.1) with receivers with at least 10 receptions.

His most critical performances came late in the season against Seventy-First and Scotland. In the final minutes against the Falcons, Stanback had two big catches in a two-play, 96-yard drive, which included a game-winning 86-yard touchdown pass. Stanback finished the night with five catches for 147 yards and one touchdown. Against Scotland, Stanback had one touchdown catch and a season-best 154 receiving yards.

Richmond wide receiver Malik Stanback (2) splits two Scotland defenders for a touchdown catch.

Pihl’s biggest contribution came in the SAC title game against Scotland, when he caught a 12-yard, fourth-quarter touchdown pass to close the deficit to nine points. But as Till notes, several of his players excelled at multiple roles this season.

Richmond tight end Gordon Pihl catching a fourth-quarter touchdown pass against Scotland.

“My favorite two things are how Jaquan made All-Conference as a linebacker, but played linebacker and safety for us,” Till explained. “And Gordon made the team as a tight end. Gordon’s position was not a full-time position in our offense, but one we needed as a team, and one he excelled at.   

“Jaquan started off the season purely as a safety, but had to be moved to help our team due to some injuries and other factors,” Till said. “The thing I love so much about this is that these guys put the team first and did what we asked at a high level and were able to still win individual awards.  It makes me really happy for those two guys.”

On the defensive side of the ball, which is coordinated by Till, seniors Wall, Everett and McRae were named to the All-SAC for the first time in their respective careers.

Wall, who battled injury in the middle of the season, led the team with 61 total tackles and five sacks in 11 games. He also led the Raiders with total tackles for loss with 13, and was second on the team in tackles per game (5.5), and third in solo tackles (37) and assists (19). Wall’s biggest play of the season was a fumble recovery for a touchdown against North Mecklenburg High School in the opening round of the 4AA state playoffs.

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Richmond defensive lineman Delon Wall (24) in action against Pinecrest.

Everett, who headlined the Raiders’ linebacking core, led the team with three interceptions, solo tackles (53) and total tackles per game (5.9). He finished second on the Raiders in total tackles (59), and had four tackles for loss, five assists and one sack.

Richmond lineback Jaquan Everett snagging one of his team-leading three interceptions.

McRae, who played on the opposite side of the field of Douglas, proved to be the team’s No. 1 cornerback. He led Richmond with nine passes defended on the season, and caused and recovered one fumble. In 11 games, McRae tallied 40 tackles (17 solo tackles), 23 assists and four tackles for loss.

Richmond cornerback Tony McRae (7) makes a tackle against Seventy-First High School.

The special teams unit shouldn’t be forgotten, as Lucero and Douglas were among the best in the SAC in their respective categories.

Lucero, who played just nine games, drilled 45 of his 47 extra point attempts, while also hitting two of his five field goal attempts (long of 31 yards). He was third on the team behind Miller and senior wide receiver Da’Shaun Wallace in total scoring (51 total points) and points per game (5.7).

Douglas, who dabbled on offense, but had a primary role as a cornerback, was crucial at giving Richmond good starting field position throughout the season. He returned the ball 29 times (19 kickoffs, 10 punts), and totaled 490 return yards on kickoffs (25.8 yards per return) and 113 return yards on punts (11.3 yards per return) for a total of 603 yard. Douglas’ longest kickoff return went for 69 yards.

Richmond specialist Kaleb Douglas (5) returns a kick against Seventy-First High School.

“Another story I love (about this season) is how Kaleb and Tony made All-Conference in spite of never taking a snap at cornerback, or the other positions for Kaleb, before this year,” Till commented. “It speaks to their level of preparation and to the level our coaches worked to develop them.”

Scotland highlighted the SAC’s top accolades, as head coach Richard Bailey was named the coach of the year, as he led the Fighting Scots to their seventh consecutive conference title.

Senior running back Zamir White, who will be honored in February with the Sam B. Nicola Award as the nation’s top high school player of the year, earned the SAC’s Offensive Player of the Year Award, as he rushed for 2,086 yards and 34 touchdowns. The University of Georgia commit tore his ACL in the second round of the state playoffs against Seventy-First High School, but has since travelled to Athens, Ga., to have it repaired.

Also grabbing the Defensive Player of the Year was Scotland’s Chris Williams. The senior linebacker led the Scots with 109 total tackles, 107 of which were solo tackles and 8.4 tackles per game. He added 12 tackles for loss, two sacks and one fumble recovery.

Below, the entire 48-player roster of the 2017 All-SAC team is listed by position:

OFFENSE

Position

Name

School

Year

Quarterback

Braylan Grice

Lumberton

Junior

Quarterback

Caleb Hood

Richmond

Freshman

Running Back

Warren Bell

Scotland

Senior

Running Back

Fabian Jones

Seventy-First

Senior

Running Back

Dante Miller

Richmond

Senior

Running Back

Zamir White

Scotland

Senior

Wide Receiver

Chandler Brayboy

Purnell Swett

Senior

Wide Receiver

Kwasheek Breeden

Lumberton

Junior

Wide Receiver

Reggie Bryant

Seventy-First

Senior

Wide Receiver

Barry Elliott

Jack Britt

Senior

Wide Receiver

Malik Stanback

Richmond

Junior

Tight End

Gordon Pihl

Richmond

Senior

Offensive Lineman

Garrett Beach

Scotland

Senior

Offensive Lineman

Matt Coe

Pinecrest

Senior

Offensive Lineman

Trequan Gordon

Purnell Swett

Senior

Offensive Lineman

Daryn Mason

Richmond

Senior

Offensive Lineman

Jake Ransom

Richmond

Junior

Offensive Lineman

Tyler Smith

Scotland

Senior

Offensive Lineman

Greg Walker

Seventy-First

Senior

Offensive Lineman

Tim Williams

Scotland

Senior

Offensive Lineman

Rueben Willis

Seventy-First

Senior

Offensive Lineman

Preston Wise

Jack Britt

Senior

 

DEFENSE

 

Position

Name

School

Year

Defensive Lineman

Jamarques Carr

Seventy-First

Senior

Defensive Lineman

Rodney Evans

Pinecrest

Junior

Defensive Lineman

Mohamed Kaba

Scotland

Senior

Defensive Lineman

Kalan Locklear

Purnell Swett

Senior

Defensive Lineman

Virginyle Monroe

Jack Britt

Junior

Defensive Lineman

Tony Smith

Scotland

Senior

Defensive Lineman

Delon Wall

Richmond

Senior

Linebacker

Aristolis Bennett

Seventy-First

Senior

Linebacker

Josh Cox

Seventy-First

Senior

Linebacker

Jacob Dipouli

Pinecrest

Junior

Linebacker

Jaquan Everett

Richmond

Senior

Linebacker

Malcolm Faulkner

Jack Britt

Senior

Linebacker

Dylan Lowery

Purnell Swett

Junior

Linebacker

Javon Ratliffe

Scotland

Senior

Linebacker

Braylan Swindell

Lumberton

Senior

Linebacker

Chris Williams

Scotland

Senior

Defensive Back

Malik Cooper

Lumberton

Senior

Defensive Back

Bryson Hamilton

Seventy-First

Senior

Defensive Back

Jaleel Johnson

Jack Britt

Senior

Defensive Back

Zyheem Kelly

Pinecrest

Sophomore

Defensive Back

Blake Lowery

Purnell Swett

Senior

Defensive Back

Tony McRae

Richmond

Senior

Defensive Back

Manny Smith

Scotland

Senior

 

SPECIAL TEAMS

Position

Name

School

Year

Kicker

Victor Lucero

Richmond

Senior

Punter

Kyler Davis

Seventy-First

Junior

Specialist

Kaleb Douglas

Richmond

Senior

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Kyle Pillar is a nine-time North Carolina Press Association award-winning sports editor with The Richmond Observer. Follow the sports department on Twitter @ROSports_ for the best in-depth coverage of Richmond County sports.