Saturday, 10 August 2019 19:05

Raiders had some 'really bright moments' in inaugural Jackets Jamboree

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Zyier Baldwin (11) and JD Lampley (95) tackle Northern Durham's Caleb Steele during Saturday's scrimmage. Zyier Baldwin (11) and JD Lampley (95) tackle Northern Durham's Caleb Steele during Saturday's scrimmage. Kyle Pillar — The Richmond Observer.

SANFORD — Prior to Saturday, the Richmond Senior High School varsity football team hadn’t played contact football against another program this pre-season. But the Raiders changed that by competing in the inaugural Jackets Jamboree at Lee County High School.

One of five teams to participate in the first-time event hosted by the Yellow Jackets, Richmond played three scrimmages, going 2-1 on the day. The Raiders started their jamboree with back-to-back wins against Southern Lee and Northern Durham high schools, before falling to the host team in the final competition.

With just 13 days until head coach Bryan Till’s team kicks off its 2019 campaign at home against Clayton High School on Friday, Aug. 23, Richmond used Saturday’s scrimmages to work out some early-season kinks on both sides of the ball.

All three scrimmages were 35 minutes with a running clock, and the Southern Lee and Northern Durham games saw both teams alternate 10-play drives starting at the opponent’s 40-yard line. If a team scored, the ball was was reset at the original mark and teams played out the remaining number of plays.

Against Lee County, downs were put in place complete with punts, and each team got one drive with a 60-yard field. Following that, the Raiders and Jackets alternated drives starting at the opponent’s’ 20-yard line.

Richmond shutout the Cavaliers 12-0, and followed up with a 6-0 win over the Knights. Lee County used a last-second touchdown to edge the Raiders 18-12.

“I thought the effort was good,” Till said afterward. “Defensively, we pursued the ball really well. We’ve got to do a better job on some gap exchange stuff against some different offenses. We had some really, really bright moments.

“In the last scrimmage (against Lee County), we had some one-on-one battles we didn’t win,” he continued. “There were some 50-50 balls that we want to be sure we can win.”

Against Southern Lee, the Richmond defense played 28 snaps and kept the Cavaliers out of the end zone. After allowing the Cavs inside the five-yard line on the third play, two sacks and a couple of negative yardage plays kept them scoreless.

The Raiders’ defense contained Southern Lee’s triple option, seeing senior middle linebacker Travis Short scoop up a fumble recovery on the second drive. The Cavaliers gained just five yards on eight plays on their final possession before time expired.

On offense, the Raiders took just four plays to score on their opening series. Junior quarterback Caleb Hood threw a screen to sophomore wide receiver Kellan Hood on the first play for a gain of 15 yards, and a checkdown to senior running back Jaheim Covington on the next play got the Raiders to the eight-yard line. A Covington run was followed by a Kellan Hood touchdown grab on a slant over the middle from two yards out.

During the same 10-play series, junior tailback Jaron Coleman would score on the ninth play, taking a pitch from Kellan Hood to the left for a seven-yard rushing score.

In what proved to be the lowest scoring affair of the day, Richmond’s bout with Northern Durham saw both teams go scoreless in their respective opening 10-play drive. 

On their second drive, the Raiders’ second-team offense managed to score on the ninth play. A catch by senior Alex Branch moved the ball to the 21-yard line, and senior running back LaCyrus Ellerbe made a charge to the 10-yard line. Three plays later, he took a pitch from Kellan Hood, this one to the right, to muscle his way into the end zone.

Senior cornerback Vraj Patel came up big for the Richmond defense, leaping up to pickoff a Knights’ pass attempt inside the 10-yard line. It would be Richmond’s only interception of the jamboree.

To cap the morning against Lee County, Richmond went three-and-out on its first live drive. The Jackets would open with a 25-yard touchdown to take a 6-0 lead with 27:55 on the clock.

The Raiders responded with a 10-play drive that resulted in a 22-yard receiving touchdown from Caleb Hood to junior wideout Dalton Stroman, who continues to impress this pre-season. 

Richmond overcame a large loss of yardage on a holding call thanks to a Kellan Hood catch and run on third-and-15. Two short runs by Caleb Hood and Covington set up Hood’s strike to Stroman in the front left corner of the end zone to tie the game with 17:16 remaining.

Senior cornerback Zyier Baldwin made a nice one-handed pass break up on fourth down to force a turnover on the next Jackets’ drive. In just two plays, the Raiders took a 12-6 lead when Stroman cut inside toward the middle of the field and used his 6-4 frame to catch a 20-yard touchdown from his junior quarterback.

But that would be it for the Raiders’ scoring, as Lee County capitalized on its final two drives to win. A first-down conversion on fourth-and-three set up the game-winning touchdown with under 10 seconds remaining.

“The biggest takeaway is going back and watching film and improve on what we didn’t do well on today,” Till reflected. “I thought we really understood things, our kids understood some of the mistakes they made, so they can move off of them.

“We’re going to get ready for next Friday’s scrimmage, and once we start game planning it’ll be what we’re setting up for that point,” he closed.

Till and company will compete in the Cumberland County Schools Jamboree on Friday, Aug. 16, at 7 p.m. The Raiders will play South View High School at Grays Creek High School. It will be their final pre-season contest.

Last modified on Sunday, 11 August 2019 13:02
Kyle Pillar

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

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