Thursday, 08 August 2019 22:50

Open practice unveils 2019 Raiders, new LED lights

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Junior wide receiver Jakolbe Baldwin hauls in a catch during Thursday's open practice at Raider Stadium. Junior wide receiver Jakolbe Baldwin hauls in a catch during Thursday's open practice at Raider Stadium. Kyle Pillar — The Richmond Observer.

ROCKINGHAM — Hundreds of football fans filled the seats of Raider Stadium on Thursday evening as the Richmond Senior High School football program held an open practice as the first full week of the pre-season winds down.

The 47-year old venue also had a new twinkle to it, as the program unveiled its new Musco LED lighting system to the public. Bought with the remaining funds of a grant received in 2017, the Musco lights are more energy efficient and were installed earlier this summer.

Fans got to see the lights in action when the Raiders scored a touchdown near the end of practice, as the new setup allows the lights to flash rhythmically. During the regular season, the lights will also flash green and gold.

Following an annual parent meeting, both the junior varsity and varsity teams made their way out to Raider Stadium for practice, the first time third-year head coach Bryan Till has held such an event. After an hour of position group drills and special teams, the varsity team scrimmaged against itself for a couple of series.

“The excitement burned us out quickly,” Till noted following the rare evening practice. “That’s something we have to get out of our system. The guys were pumped up in the locker room, but we have to be able to maintain that. It’s good to see that now so we can work on it.

“Defensively, we need to keep playing to the whistle,” he added. “It’s tough because we don’t want to tackle our running backs and quarterbacks, but that’s something we’ve got to get better at. Offensively, we did some really good things -- they played a little better than the defense today.”

A photo of the new Musco LED lights at Raider Stadium. Click here for a video.

Junior quarterback Caleb Hood led the first-team offense during the scrimmage and connected with senior wide receiver Justin Morman on a screen pass to kick things off. Also getting first-team reps were junior wide receivers Jakolbe Baldwin and Dalton Stroman, while senior running back Jaheim Covington made several tough runs through traffic.

On defense, senior Javon Little, junior Kaleel Brown and sophomore JD Lampley lined up as the new defensive line, as the trio will look to replace three seniors from last season. Quick to the ball were several players, including senior linebacker Joerail White and senior cornerbacks Zyier Baldwin and D’Marcus Harrington.

Another reason Till wanted his players on the game field was to get used to the new 40-second play clock that the North Carolina High School Athletic Association will be implementing this season. Several NCHSAA approved officials were on hand to get some reps of their own, while helping orchestrate the new clock rules.

An added bonus to practicing on the main field was to get the Raider players used to the new brightness of the LED lights. Several wide receivers and special teams players remained on the field following practice to take more reps to acclimate themselves.

“We used tonight as an opportunity to see the guys get adjusted to the lights, and I’m still learning them myself,” Till said. “I don’t think they will have a negative impact on us, I actually think it will make things better. The lights are directed toward the field of play and they shouldn’t be in our eyes.”

Till added that he appreciated the large showing of fans who came out to support the program.

Richmond will continue checking things off its pre-season list with its first of two scrimmages against other teams starting Saturday. The Raiders will travel to Lee County High School and compete in the Jackets Jamboree, starting at 9:30 a.m.

Kyle Pillar

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

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