ROCKINGHAM — If Richmond County emulates anything, it’s the small Southern community that works hard, goes to church and breathes high school football. And with the Richmond Senior High School Raiders football program as the pulsing heartbeat on autumn Friday nights, newly hired head coach Bryan Till has just one thing on his mind: restoring greatness to a school with a storied history.
Till, who is a Georgia native, takes over the Raiders program, which has faced its fair share of turbulent times the past few seasons. With hopes of bringing another state championship title to Richmond County, a feat that hasn’t been accomplished since 2008, Till feels confident that his coaching staff and players can regain glory.
In a career that started with an undergraduate degree in exercise and sports science from the University of Georgia, Till has a background in strength and conditioning, an aspect of his philosophy that he believes will make the Raiders more competitive.
After serving as a strength and conditioning intern with the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League, Till moved to Cumberland County, North Carolina, ten years ago to start his high school coaching career. He joined the coaching staff at Terry Sanford High School, where he was the special teams coordinator, and was later promoted to offensive coordinator.
With the addition of a masters degree in science education, Till got his first head coaching position at Cape Fear High School in Stedman, N.C. He then moved back to Terry Sanford High School, this time as head coach. In his four years there, Till led the Bulldogs to two conference titles, and notched a No. 1 seed in the 2015 3AA state playoffs.
When the RSHS head coach position became available in December, 2016, Till knew right away that it was a job he wanted to pursue.
“I believe (Richmond) is the top program in North Carolina,” Till said. “Historically, 17 guys have played in the NFL. It’s incredible the amount of tradition in this building. I’m really honored and blessed to have the opportunity to come here.”
Another drawing point of RSHS, according to Till, is that it’s the only high school in the county. In his short time here, he’s been overwhelmed by the amount of support from the community. He understands the everyone wants the program to do well, but he knows they’ll support the program because that’s the unique nature of Richmond County.
With the support of Raiders fans, and coupled with the expectation to win, comes the added pressure and scrutiny of being under the community’s microscope. But this is something Till acknowledges and isn’t going to shy away from.
“I’m going to deal with the pressure by embracing it,” Till said with a grin. “I really think it’s more of a positive thing than a negative. I view (the pressure) as a strength. People here will still get behind you, they want to win ball games. I don’t see it as pressure, I see it as what is great about this community. I’m very familiar and comfortable with it.”
Till, in describing his coaching style, identifies as “aggressive.” It’s a style which he knows may raise questions at some point during the season, but one that can win games. This mentality will not only be apparent on game day, but it’s trickling down to his players in the weight room and during workouts.
“I’m aggressive,” Till said. “We’re going to blitz on defense; we’re going to take shots down the field on offense. If you’re worried about not making a mistake, then you’re not doing enough to win the big games. We want to be aggressive in everything that we do.”
As summer workouts are underway, the Raiders are falling in line with where Till wants to take them. He and his coaching staff have set high expectations for the upcoming season, and his players are aware of what’s required of them. Getting the players to buy into the program, and to get them to willingly participate, is the first step on the road to success. Till preaches the mantra of “expect to win every game”, and more so, wants his program to expect to be competitive statewide.
Aside from being the head coach, Till will also act as the defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach. Joining him on the sidelines as assistant head coaches will be Greg Williams (offense) and Hal Shuler (defense). Brad Denson will call the plays as offensive coordinator, and Jay Jones will work with the quarterbacks.
In conjunction with the on-field skills he’s trying to teach, Till also understands the necessity of integrity within the classroom. While at Terry Sanford, he was able to get 21 students to play college football. And that’s a standard he hopes to bring with him to Richmond.
“The thing I want people to know is that we’re going to win football games,” Till said. “We’re going to win because we’re doing the other things right in every area of our program. We’re going to work really hard on character, work really hard in the classroom, work really hard on strength and conditioning. When our kids go out onto the field, you’re going to see them do things right because they’ve just practiced it in every area of their lives.”
The Richmond Observer is excited to announce that it will be extensively covering the Richmond Raiders season this fall. Along with game stories, we will bring you exquisite media coverage that hasn’t been seen in Richmond County before. Weekly spotlights will be placed on notable players, and we encourage you to continue to follow us as the season starts up.