Thursday, 11 October 2018 11:20

Till: Consistency is key if Raiders want to continue win streak during homecoming meeting with Hoke County

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Bryan Till's Raiders look to extend their winning streak to five games against Hoke County on Friday. Bryan Till's Raiders look to extend their winning streak to five games against Hoke County on Friday. Photo courtesy of Jimmy McDonald.

ROCKINGHAM - Richmond Senior High School students will have one less day to celebrate spirit week because of school being out Thursday due to Hurricane Michael -- but the Raider varsity football team is still anticipating playing its homecoming game Friday as originally scheduled.

If all goes according to plan, Richmond (5-1, 2-0 SAC) will host Sandhills Athletic Conference opponent Hoke County High School (0-6, 0-2 SAC) Friday at 7:30 p.m.

It’s no secret that the weather over the past month has thrown athletic schedules off all across the state, starting with Hurricane Florence early in September, and now with a fast-moving Michael. But Raider head coach Bryan Till noted that his team is almost used to the chaotic schedule, and this week’s unexpected chaos shouldn’t affect his team.

“We’re on track for Friday, and it looks like the weather should be clear,” Till said in his office Wednesday. “The big question is since we’re not in school Thursday, what’s the transition into Friday going to look like? We should play if both counties are in school.

“Our biggest problem will be to hustle to get the field painted,” he grinned. “The winds will help dry off the field, and Raider Stadium’s field drains really well -- so water won’t be a problem.”

Richmond is currently on a four game-winning streak, knocking off Pine Forest, Butler, Pinecrest and Jack Britt high schools over the last four games. In that span, the Raider defense has shutout two opponents (Pine Forest and Pinecrest), and has only given up a combined 27 points in the other two games. On the offensive side of the ball, Richmond has been lights out, netting 120 points (average of 30 points per game) in the same stretch.

Till has expressed before how the middle of any football season, winning or not, can become a monotonous revolving door throughout the week of practice for players. And despite the hype surrounding homecoming week flowing throughout campus, the Raiders are showing the coaching staff that being complacent isn’t an option.

“This week has been good, even with homecoming stuff going on,” Till said. “All the guys are focused in practice, and we’re really starting to be businesslike in everything we do. We’ve always had athletes, but now we have football players.

“Our players are putting out good, consistent results on Fridays because they know what’s expected of them,” he added. “They’ve had tremendous focus even with no school (Thursday), and worked hard in weight room (Wednesday).”

After two weeks of SAC play, the Raiders are one of three teams with a perfect record. The other two are rival Scotland High School and Seventy-First High School. Hoke County, on the other hand, joins Lumberton and Purnell Swett high schools at the bottom of the standings, as all three teams are tied for last place at 0-2.

More so, the Bucks haven’t won a game since Oct. 28, 2016, a 21-17 victory over Purnell Swett. Entering this week’s matchup, Hoke County is currently on a 19-game losing streak. But Till isn’t taking the losing streak lightly, saying that the Bucks have the potential to put together a good game, especially on offense.

“Offensively, they have a system in place this year,” Till said of George Small’s Bucks. “The last couple years they’ve been trying different things, but now that they have a system, it gives them a chance to win and be extremely competitive. If you were to watch film and not look at their record, it’s hard to believe they’re winless.

“Hoke was up at some point it its games against Lee County and Scotland, so it’s clear that they’re getting better,” Till continued. “They turned the ball over a lot early against Seventy-First, which makes them more one-dimensional. Their quarterback, Xavier Ford, is good, and they line up with three or four receivers every set. And Tory Peterkin (tailback) can run, and they both compliment each other.”

Till also explained that the Bucks’ defense plays a lot of “off coverage” and can “run to the ball well.” When looking at film, Hoke County’s starting 11 is “very sound overall and very gap sound, and it doesn’t try to do to much,” as it is developing a lot of junior and sophomore players.

Historically, the Raiders have owned the record against Hoke County, compiling a 40-1 all-time record against the Bucks. The lone loss came in 2011 when the Bucks squeaked out a 24-21 win at home. In the series that started in 1975, the Raiders have outscored the Bucks 1,380-391, and have put 30 points or more on the board 24 times during that stretch.

Last season during Hoke’s homecoming, the Raiders posted 56 points on the scoreboard en route to a 56-7 win, which tied the most points the Raiders scored in a game in 2017 (also scored 56 points against Purnell Swett). That game was also the second-most points Richmond has scored against Hoke, with the most being 60, which happened in the 1976 meeting.

Entering Friday’s game, the Raiders’ offense is the best statistically in the SAC, and headed by sophomore quarterback Caleb Hood. Through six games this season, Hood has thrown for an SAC-best in yards (1,070), yards per game (178.3) and completion percentage (.589). He’s also tied with Seventy-First’s Kyler Davis with 12 passing touchdowns, and is tied with two other players for the SAC low in interceptions with one.

Richmond will also welcome back several players to the huddle Friday returning from injury, including center Jake Ransom, wide receiver Bobby Terry and cornerback DJ Stephens.

“Our expectations are still to win a conference championship and a state championship,” Till concluded. “The focus becomes our consistency as a team, and we need to see if we can continue to do that.

“It’s hard to harp on the same things week in and week out, but the kids keep doing it.  Regardless of outcomes of the games, our opponents have not changed our approach to preparing, which is extremely important to a championship team.”

Kickoff against the Bucks, barring any further delay from Hurricane Michael, is slated for Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Raider Stadium.


Last modified on Thursday, 11 October 2018 14:50
Kyle Pillar

Sports Editor. IUP communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

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