Sunday, 20 October 2019 14:50

Mr. 5,000: Hood becomes Raiders' all-time leader in passing yards, completions

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Junior quarterback Caleb Hood eclipsed the 5,000 passing yard mark this season and is the Raiders' all-time passing yards leader. Junior quarterback Caleb Hood eclipsed the 5,000 passing yard mark this season and is the Raiders' all-time passing yards leader. Deon Cranford — The Richmond Observer.

ROCKINGHAM — Caleb Hood is now the all-time completion and passing yard leader, and the first quarterback in Richmond Senior High School’s 47-year history to eclipse the 5,000 yard passing mark.

With 33 starts under his belt since becoming the Raiders’ starting quarterback as a freshman during the 2017 season, Hood has 5,493 passing yards on 351 completions (15.65 yards per pass). He also has 52 career passing touchdowns, which is second in program history and only a dozen behind Leon Zeigler (64).

“It means a lot growing up here and watching the Raiders play,” Hood commented on becoming the top passer. “I always dreamed of breaking records and being one of the top players to come from Richmond. It’s great to reach 5,000 passing yards, but at the same time, I haven’t had to do as much as I get credit for.

“My offensive line over the last three years has been awesome, especially this year,” Hood noted. “All those guys have been working extremely hard and they’d do anything for me and I’d do the same for them. My receivers are the same way — those guys turn five or 10-yard passes into a 60-yard touchdown in a heartbeat. I’m blessed to be able to have those guys on my team.”

Hood, who has multiple Division I scholarship offers, added that reaching the career marks “weren’t really a surprise” because of the type of offense the Raiders run, as well as the playmakers he’s had at his disposal over the years.

The previous passing yards and completion leader was Zeigler, who was the starting quarterback in 2015 and 2016. In his two seasons under center, Zeigler compiled 4,606 career passing yards and 315 completions. Hood surpassed the career yardage mark in Richmond’s 45-28 win over Cardinal Gibbons High School on Sept. 13.

In that game, Hood went 26-of-34 passing for 311 yards, which gave him 4,847 career passing yards. The 26 completions also set a new school record for the most completions in a game, and Hood also connected with seven receivers in the win, surpassing his and Zeigler’s previous record of six wideouts.

Hood reached the 5,000 yard mark in Richmond’s win over Purnell Swett High School to open Sandhills Athletic Conference play at home on Sept. 27, having entered the game just 28 yards short. A week later against Pinecrest High School, Hood passed Zeigler’s all-time completion mark. 

He tied the previous record with a three-yard pass to Jaheim Covington, and on the next pass attempt, he hit Covington for an 11-yard hookup for completion No. 316. Those passes came on Richmond’s third possession of the first quarter against the Patriots.

“The journey has been great, just being able to create bonds with coaches and players that I’ll never forget,” Hood explained. “I love my team and there’s not anyone on the team I don’t like. 

“I’ve definitely matured over the last three years as a leader,” he added. “I’m still goofy,  but when it’s game time, it’s game time. I’ve gotten a lot stronger and a lot faster and that’s helped a lot in the running game and has helped me to be more confident in myself as a football player.”

Third-year head coach Bryan Till has been with Hood since he began his journey as the Raiders’ signal caller over two and a half seasons ago. During that time, Till, Hood and the entire Raider program have revitalized the team’s success and involvement with the community. 

“The passing milestones that Caleb hit are impressive, but are the product of consistent play over time, as well as great teammates who have helped him along the way,” Till said of Hood. “No quarterback can achieve anything alone, and I know Caleb has been grateful for the other young men who have helped him get to this point.  

“I think about all the different wide receivers he has thrown to, as well as the different offensive linemen who have protected him,” he added. “I hope all these guys take joy in an accomplishment that will have Caleb's name attached to it because they have had a huge part in it.”

This season, Hood’s top targets have been juniors Jakolbe Baldwin, Tremel Jones and Dalton Stroman, along with younger brother and sophomore Kellan Hood. In seasons past, other receivers to help him achieve his records were Jaleen Baldwin, Preston Coker, Bobby Terry, Malik Stanback, Jordyn Wall and Dashaun Wallace.

Up front, this year’s offensive line is comprised of seniors Brian Bowden, Austin Hart and Trent Simpson, junior Jaleel Davis and sophomore Braxton Butler. Also getting big minutes are Jaiden Covington, Adam Stubbs and Caleb Wilson. Other guys in the trenches the last couple years that Till hopes celebrate are Chase Coulthard, Curtis Freeman, CJ Goodwin, Daryn Mason, Jake Ransom and Skylar Standridge.

“I’ve had a lot of really good wide receivers over the years, but this group we have this year is special,” Hood said. “They are very talented, but they love to work. This summer we got together all the time and worked on routes and timing and we just hung out and kept building our relationship with each other. 

“It’s been pretty awesome playing with these guys with all the speed and athletic ability they have,” he said.

Hood recalled that his favorite passing play was an 86-yard catch and run down the left sideline to Stanback against Seventy-First High School during his freshman year. Of the game-winning score in the fourth quarter, Hood said: “I remember before the drive, Coach (Brad) Denson told me to ‘make a name for myself.’

“Being a freshman and a huge Raider fan my whole life, it meant a lot coming from a guy who never lost a middle school or high school football game and won two state championships,” he added of Denson.

Hood has proven to also be a dual-threat quarterback and uses his legs during games to scramble out of the pocket. While the spread offense Richmond runs affords him plenty of opportunities to throw the ball, he said running the ball is “the most fun” and he always “starts smiling” when play callers Andy Shuler and Greg Williams send in a designated quarterback run.

With Richmond currently 8-0 on the season, Hood isn’t focused on his personal accolades as much as he is his team’s success. The Raiders are aiming for their second-straight SAC title, as well as a deep playoff run that Hood hopes results in the program’s eighth state championship banner. 

“My individual goals are just to make sure I’m the best teammate I can be and keep my grades where they are,” he closed. “And we want to win a state championship.” 

Sports editor Kyle Pillar and Deon Cranford contributed to this article.

Last modified on Sunday, 20 October 2019 15:01

Kyle Pillar

Three-time award-winning sports editor. Indiana University of Pennsylvania communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

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