Friday, 12 July 2019 23:07

Raiders go 5-2 in first day of Powerade Invitational, earn No. 4 seed in championship bracket

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Junior Dalton Stroman goes up to catch one of his two touchdowns against Carolina Forest High School in Friday's pool play. Junior Dalton Stroman goes up to catch one of his two touchdowns against Carolina Forest High School in Friday's pool play. Kyle Pillar — The Richmond Observer.

MATTHEWS, N.C. — A lot of football was played by the Richmond Senior High School Raiders on Friday, as 32 of the nation’s top football programs converged on the Sportsplex at Matthews for the seventh annual Powerade Invitational 7-on-7 tournament.

On day one of the two-day event, the Raiders battled hot weather and tough competition, but proved to be hotter, finishing the day with a 5-2 overall record in pool play. That mark placed the Raiders and head coach Bryan Till atop the Potassium Division, earning the team the No. 4 overall seed in Saturday’s championship bracket.

“I loved our kids’ effort today,” Till said following his team’s performance. “I felt like we kept trying to get better and that’s the big thing. They were really resilient because it was such a long day. We came out on the losing end of the stick twice, but our leadership came up big.

“We did a lot of things really well against some great competition,” he added. “We won both games following our losses, which showed the guys wouldn’t give up. We developed some good-natured rivalries and it was fun to see it unfold.”

Richmond played seven teams from seven different states: John Tyler High School (Texas), Carolina Forest High School (S.C.), Thornton Fractional North High School (Ill.), Vero Beach High School (Fla.), Life Christian Academy (Va.), Johns Creek High School (Ga.) and Oakland High School (Tenn.).

Each game was 22 minutes long, with teams playing on a 40-yard field. Offenses had two sets of three plays to go 15 yards for a first down, and once inside the 10-yard line, they had three plays to score. Touchdowns were worth six points (one and two-point conversion attempts followed), while defenses could earn points on interceptions (three points) and turnover on downs (two points).

Rising junior quarterback Caleb Hood played all but one series during the day, and the 6-0, 193-pounder showed out. Unofficial stats show Hood went 59-of-96 passing (.615 completion percentage) for 844 yards and 17 touchdowns. He connected with eight different receivers for a score, while only throwing two interceptions.

Fellow junior wide receiver Jakolbe Baldwin led the team with five touchdowns, while juniors Tremel Jones and Dalton Stroman each hauled in three on the day. Junior Jaron Coleman caught two scores, while Alex Branch, Kellan Hood, Armond Martin and Justin Morman all caught one touchdown.

As a team, the Raiders scored 147 total points, for an average of 21 points per game. On defense, Richmond allowed 87 points, or 12.4 points per contest. The offense scored the most points in a single game, 32, against Johns Creek.

“The entire offense took what was given to them today,” Till explained. “Caleb obviously had a great day, but guys like Alex and Tremel stepped up in big situations. Jakolbe and Dalton continued to do what we know they can do.

“We faced defenses today that had we faced them earlier in the summer, we probably would have had a lot more problems,” he continued. “Our guys really understood how to find space and make adjustments.”

Defensively, Richmond managed to stop opposing offenses on 14 drives during its seven games, collecting 28 total points. Rising senior D’Marcus Harrington had a team-high three pass breakups, sophomore Jaleak Gates had two, while seven other players recorded one. The Raiders held five of their seven opponents to 16 points or fewer, with Life Christian’s four points being the fewest.

“We faced a lot of different offenses today, and the guys ran about four different coverages today,” Till said. “We’d check in and out of coverages, and they did a good job without having a game plan. Our experience and knowing the rules (of different coverages) allowed us to be successful.”

Below is a synopsis of each game, complete with stats:


Game 1: Tyler 19, Richmond 16

Caleb Hood: 9-of-13 passing, 112 yards, two TDs

TDs: Baldwin (eight yards), Kellan Hood (one yard)

Defense: Harrington PBU to tie the game at 16; two total defensive stops (four points).

Tyler took a 6-0 lead on the first play with a 40-yard strike, which was followed by a Hood interception on Richmond’s first drive. Baldwin caught an eight-yard TD on Richmond’s second drive with 13:00 remaining, and was followed by Kellan Hood catching a one-yard score a drive later. 

Harrington knotted the game at 16-16 with a PBU on third down and 52 seconds remaining, but a Hood interception gave Tyler the three points needed to win.


Game 2: Richmond 18, Carolina Forest 16

Caleb Hood: 7-of-10 passing, 114 yards, two TDs

TDs: Stroman (27 yards), Stroman (26 yards)

Defense: Harrington, Michael Baldwin, Dre Bethea and Gates all had one PBU; defense had one stop (two points).

Stroman, who is 6-4, made easy work of the Carolina Forest defense, leaping above the opposition for two scores. He hauled in a 27-yarder in the left corner on Richmond’s first drive, and followed with a 26-yard score on the next possession. Jones caught a first-down pass at the six-yard line with 11 seconds left to seal the deal.


Game 3: Richmond 22, Thornton Fractional North 7

Caleb Hood: 10-of-18 passing, 120 yards, three TDs

TDs: Jones (eight yards), Stroman (seven yards), Martin (seven yards)

Defense: forced a turnover on downs on the second drive (two points).

Hood connected with Jones on the fourth play of the opening drive from eight yards out to give Richmond an early advantage. That was followed by another leaping Stroman score on the next drive, this one in the right corner, and the Raider defense stopped a TFN drive at the seven-yard line by forcing three-straight incompletions.

Martin capped an eight-play scoring drive with a seven-yard grab with 10 seconds left on the clock for his lone score of the day.


Game 4: Vero Beach 17, Richmond 16

Caleb Hood: 5-of-10 passing, 69 yards, one TD

TDs: Baldwin (13 yards)

Defense: forced a turnover on downs on the first drive (two points).

In what was Hood’s least productive performance of the day, he found Baldwin on a 13-yard catch and run for a score on Richmond’s second drive. That gave Richmond a 16-7 lead, but Vero Beach scored 10 unanswered points to earn the win. Vero Beach stopped the Raider offense with three straight incompletions to take the lead with 45 seconds left.


Game 5: Richmond 20, Life Christian 4

Caleb Hood: 10-of-17 passing, 128 yards, two TDs

TDs: Baldwin (20 yards), Coleman (one yard)

Defense: Gates PBU for a defensive stop on the first drive, Xavion Lindsey PBU on the second drive, and four total defensive stops for eight points.

The Raider defense made a strong showing against the team that eliminated the Raiders in the “Be the One” 7-on-7 last month at UNC. Four total defensive stops gave the Raiders eight of their 20 points, while Hood connected with Baldwin and Coleman for touchdowns. 


Game 6: Richmond 32, Johns Creek 9

Caleb Hood: 9-of-13 passing, 160 yards, four TDs

TDs: Jones (40 yards), Branch (21 yards), Morman (40 yards) and Jones (four yards)

Defense: Jamari Broady PBU on a conversion attempt, defensive stops on three drives (six points).

Hood passed for a day-high four touchdowns over Johns Creek, launching two 40-yard scores, one each to Jones and Morman. Jones’ first touchdown of the game was a missile down the left sideline on the first drive, while Morman hauled his in near the same spot two drives later.

Branch caught his lone score of the day, a 21-yard strike, in the front right corner of the end zone on the second drive. Jones wrapped this up with a four yard catch over the middle as time expired.


Game 7: Richmond 23, Oakland 15

Caleb Hood: 9-of-15 passing, 141 yards, three TDs

TDs: Baldwin (15 yards), Baldwin (40 yards) and Coleman (22 yards)

Defense: defensive stops on Oakland’s first three drives, including PBUs from Harrington, Dereck Barringer and Gavin Russell.

Baldwin ended his five-touchdown day by catching two more in the final game. Following a defensive stop by Richmond to start the game, Baldwin scored on second down from 15 yards out over the middle. That was followed by a 40-yard laser from Hood to Baldwin on the third play of the next possession.

Barringer and Harrington broke up back-to-back passes on Oakland’s second drive, and Russell had his lone PBU to force a turnover on downs a drive later. Coleman made a nifty move down the left sideline for a 22-yard score as time expired.

No. 4 Richmond will play No. 29 Rock Hill South Pointe High School (S.C.) at 8:30 a.m. in the opening round of the double-elimination championship bracket on Saturday. The winning program receives $15,000 in vouchers to BSN Sports, followed by $7,500, $5,000 and $2,500 to the other top teams.

Kyle Pillar

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

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