Saturday, 15 May 2021 12:36

Richmond's 10-game 2021 schedule features 'tough' and 'quality' competition

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Fifth-year head coach Bryan Till, picture here during the Middle Creek playoff game, breaks down the 2021 fall schedule. Fifth-year head coach Bryan Till, picture here during the Middle Creek playoff game, breaks down the 2021 fall schedule. Kyle Pillar — Sports Editor.

ROCKINGHAM — The official schedule for the 50th season of Richmond Raider football was released by the program on Friday.

As high school sports look to return to a normal timeline after a modified 2020-21 calendar, the Raiders and fifth-year head coach Bryan Till will play a 10-game regular season.

Richmond will play a four-game non-conference schedule against four teams that made the NCHSAA state playoffs in 2020, followed by six conference games in a new 3A/4A split conference.

Till explained that the non-conference schedule has been almost two years in the making, as teams make two-year agreements to play one home game and one away game. 

The four non-conference teams the Raiders will play, in order of the 2021 schedule, are Mount Tabor, David W. Butler, Cardinal Gibbons and South View high schools.

“When we’re looking to schedule games, we try to get teams that are in the East and the West,” Till explained. “Before the state did its realignment, we could go either way in the playoffs. So I was trying to get games against teams out of Charlotte, Raleigh, Fayetteville or Winston-Salem.

“We want to play quality teams,” he added. “We’ve played Butler for several years before I got here, and we’ve also built a good relationship with Cardinal Gibbons. Mount Tabor’s coach (Tiesuan Brown) is a Richmond grad and we’ve been talking for almost two years.

Till said the last-minute pickup was South View, explaining that once the NCHSAA granted teams an 11-week season, the Raiders could add another opponent.

In 2020, the Mount Tabor Spartans went 11-0 and won the 3AA state championship. Cardinal Gibbons (9-1) won the 4A East regional championship and finished as the state’s runner-up for the second year in a row, while Butler (8-2) made an appearance in the 4A West regional championship.

South View (7-2) also made the 4A East state playoffs, but made an exit in the second round, the same round the Raiders lost to Cardinal Gibbons.

Till said scheduling such a competitive non-conference slate will continue to build the program while also hopefully helping the Raiders make deep playoff runs.

“The big deal in the playoffs this year is we didn’t have the experience outside of our conference,” Till explained. “We also didn’t play Jack Britt or Scotland. That hurt us in the playoffs, so this non-conference schedule will help get our guys developed and more prepared.

“We could lose to one of these teams and then see them again in the playoffs,” he continued. “What we would try to do is correct the mistakes and win when it matters. Preparation is what matters most.”

For the first time in program history, Richmond will compete in a 3A/4A split conference in 2021 following the NCHSAA’s realignment this past winter. The Raiders will retain their storied rivalry with Scotland High School despite Richmond (4A) and the Fighting Scots (3A) being in different classifications.

Two other teams Richmond will continue to play in the new conference, which has yet to be officially named, are Hoke County and Pinecrest high schools. This past spring, Richmond defeated both 4A schools during its shortened three-game regular season.

New additions include 3A opponents Lee County, Southern Lee and Union Pines high schools. Richmond and Lee County were last conference opponents in 1992, and their history goes back to 1972 when Richmond upset the Yellow Jackets 8-7 to win the Southeastern 3A Conference title.

This past season, Pinecrest (6-3) made the 4AA East playoffs and lost in the second round to Wake Forest High School. Lee County (8-1), which finished as the 3AA state runner up in 2019, made a second-round exit in the East playoffs this spring.

For the first time since 1972, the Raiders and Scots didn’t play one another due to COVID-19 protocols. But Scotland rounds out the seven teams Richmond will play next year that made the state playoffs in 2020. The Fighting Scots (4-2) fell in the opening round of the 4A East bracket.

“It’s a very tough conference, and Scotland and Lee County are good teams that make deep playoff runs,” Till said. “Pinecrest, which has had the largest participation in the state the last couple of years, will still be a good program under whoever becomes the new coach.

“Hoke is seeing a resurgence under Coach (George) Small and is a quality team. Southern Lee and Union Pines are nice additions and we’re excited to finish the regular season with back-to-back games against Lee County and Scotland.”

Richmond’s bye week will be in Week 10 between the Lee County and Scotland games. Till said the break will be welcomed but the team hopes to remain healthy during the final stretch.

Moving forward, the Raiders will look to get back in the weightroom ahead of the new season. Till noted the team “wins a lot of ball games between January and May, outworking a lot of people in those five months.”

The Raiders will hold offseason workouts this summer, hitting the weightroom in June. Varsity will meet from 7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., followed by junior varsity from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.

Till said the program will continue to lift throughout July, but will be on the field more. JV will workout from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. in July, with varsity going from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Below is the complete 2021 fall football schedule. An asterisk denotes a home game.

Non-Conference Schedule

Week 1 — Friday, Aug. 20: Richmond @ Mount Tabor

Week 2 — Friday, Aug. 27: Richmond @ David W. Butler

Week 3 — Friday, Sept. 3: Richmond vs. Cardinal Gibbons *

Week 4 — Friday, Sept. 10: Richmond vs. South View *

3A/4A Conference Schedule

Week 5 — Friday, Sept. 17: Richmond vs. Southern Lee *

Week 6 — Friday, Sept. 24: Richmond vs. Pinecrest *

Week 7 — Friday, Oct. 1: Richmond @ Hoke County

Week 8 — Friday, Oct. 8: Richmond @ Union Pines

Week 9 — Friday, Oct. 15: Richmond vs. Lee County *

Week 10 — Bye Week

Week 11 — Friday, Oct. 29: Richmond @ Scotland

Kyle Pillar

Nine-time N.C. Press Association award-winning sports editor. Indiana University of Pennsylvania communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

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