ROCKINGHAM — Not satisfied with where the team stands heading into its fourth game, the Richmond Senior High School varsity football program has taken added measures this week to compete for its first win this Friday.
Going 0-3 to begin the season, the Raiders and head coach Bryan Till will look to recover from their first shutout loss in six years with another road game.
Richmond will face another winless opponent this week in South View High School (0-2), which will conclude a string of four non-conference games to start the season.
Following last week’s loss to defending 4A state champion Cardinal Gibbons, Till stated the team’s struggles were not solely because of inexperience, but because the team wasn’t making adjustments week-to-week.
Through the first three days of practice this week, more time has been spent with coaches and players breaking down Xs and Os in preparation for kickoff.
“We have changed the order in which we are practicing certain concepts and reads to give our guys more reps and also to help do a better job of concepts building off of each other so that guys have a better understanding,” Till said.
“It’s amazing how much coaching is like classroom teaching. We also have tried to rework our meeting and chalk time so that we are getting more out of it in groups instead of individual positions.”
While the scores the past three Fridays haven’t favored the Raiders at the final whistle, Till isn’t doubting the effort and mindset of the Raiders. Each game has shown flashes of productivity, and the work and preparation continues.
Not unaware of the team’s current record, Till said players and coaches aren’t harping on the games already played. Instead, the Raiders are putting one foot in front of the other in hopes of handing the Tigers another loss.
“The noise surrounding our start is there for sure, but talking about that and focusing on it isn’t helpful at all,” Till commented. “While you have to realize mistakes, we have made it so we can correct them. If you focus on the record, then you won’t have any direct impact on the future and that is what really matters.”
The Tigers, coached by Rodney Brewington, have suffered a pair of non-conference losses to Overhills and Hoke County high schools to start the season. But South View has been able to score at a high clip, averaging 33.0 points per game on offense.
On defense, the Tigers have given up 43.0 points per contest, which compares to Richmond’s 4.7 PPG on offense and average of allowing 38.9 points in three games.
Till acknowledged that the Raiders’ offensive woes have hindered the team’s ability to remain competitive on the scoreboard. Through three games, Richmond has scored just two touchdowns and is averaging 194.0 yards of offense per game.
The tweaks and wrinkles thrown into practice this week, he hopes, will continue to improve the offense’s chance at finding the end zone.
South View has played a couple of different quarterbacks this season, and Till noted “both are able to run the offense efficiently,” another multiple offensive scheme. On paper, the two QBs are almost identical in numbers.
Senior Jaydon Richardson has made two appearances under center, while sophomore quarterback Tariq Clarida has played in one game. Richardson is 17-of-30 through the air with 209 passing yards and four touchdowns, while Clarida has hit 11-of-13 for 207 yards and three scores.
Favorite targets include senior wideout Brandon Sanders (9 catches, 179 yards, 4 TDs) and sophomore Donovan Pauling-Outlaw (9 catches, 114 yards, 2 TDs).
In the backfield, junior Christian Rutledge leads the team with 189 rushing yards on 21 carries and one trip to the end zone.
“They have several skill guys who can really go,” Till said. “No. 2 (Sanders), No. 3 (Pauling-Outlaw) and No. 5 (Rashad Dockery) have all had big touchdown grabs and made some spectacular plays.
“No. 23 (Rutledge) is a hard-nosed explosive back and has also made big plays in the kicking game. This is all within a mix of the wing-t and spread concepts.”
The Tigers’ defense is just as complex, running a blitzing 3-4 scheme while mixing in cover two, cover four and man-to-man packages.
“We have to understand where our reads are based on how they change alignments and make the right read consistently in order to have success,” Till said of the Raiders lining up against South View’s defense.
With Friday’s game being the final non-conference game of the season, Till said the team is focused on one play at a time and hopes to carry a win into the start of Sandhills Athletic Conference action.
“Continued improvement in all phases is imperative,” Till said. “We are still working each week to play our best game. That includes all the cliches that are so true in this sport — limit turnovers, know your assignment, limit big plays, make our own big plays, score when in the red zone, be great on special teams and several others.
“While a win going into conference is good, if we had another non-conference game, the win would still be just as good. We want to play well and if we do that better than our opponent, we will win.”
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at South View High School in Hope Mills. Tickets are being sold online and can be purchased by clicking here.