RAEFORD — If preseason polls have any bearing on the outcome of a season, then the Richmond Raiders are the favorite to win the 3A/4A Sandhills Athletic Conference title — again.
At the SAC’s annual media day on Sunday, held at Hoke County High School, Richmond topped both the coaches and media polls.
In the coaches poll, the Raiders received four first-place tallies out of seven votes cast, edging Pinecrest by two votes.
Rival Scotland collected four first-place votes in the media poll compared to Richmond’s three, but the Raiders still received the most overall votes.
Pinecrest and Scotland flip-flopped as the No. 2 team in the two different polls.
But the final four teams were all the same in both votes — No. 4 Lee County, No. 5 Hoke County, No. 6 Union Pines and No. 7 Southern Lee.
Representing the Raiders at the media day were seniors Jeffery Linton (offensive line) and Emerson Wall (defensive back).
Winning the SAC regular-season title has become a mainstay during the last five seasons since head coach Bryan Till took over in 2017. Richmond finished second that season behind Scotland, but has rattled off four consecutive conference championships since then.
Perhaps more impressive, the Raiders have an undefeated streak against SAC opponents dating back to the start of the 2018 season.
During that span, Richmond has secured a 23-0 record and has outscored opponents 1,027-231, for an average of 44.7 points per game on offense.
The Raiders will host Terry Sanford High School for a scrimmage on Wednesday at 10 a.m., before traveling to Marlboro County High School on Friday for the Battle of the Border jamboree.
Richmond will play 10 regular-season games this fall, with just four home games, and has one of the toughest non-conference slates in the state.
A complete schedule is listed below. Home games are bold and SAC games are marked with an asterisk.
Aug. 19 vs. Mount Tabor, 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 26 vs. Butler, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 2 @ Cardinal Gibbons, 7 p.m.
Sept. 9 @ South View, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 16 @ Southern Lee, 7:30 p.m. *
Sept. 23 @ Pinecrest, 7:30 p.m. *
Sept. 30 vs. Hoke County, 7:30 p.m. * (homecoming)
Oct. 7 @ Union Pines, 7:30 p.m. *
Oct. 14 @ Lee County, 7:30 p.m. *
Oct. 28 vs. Scotland, 7:30 p.m. * (senior night)