Monday, 18 November 2019 20:58

No. 1 Raiders focus on themselves, No. 8 Hough in preparation for 2nd round

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Offensive coordinator Brad Denson goes over plays with the offensive line during Monday's practice. Offensive coordinator Brad Denson goes over plays with the offensive line during Monday's practice. Kyle Pillar — Sports Editor.

ROCKINGHAM — As soon as Hough High School won its opening-round playoff game Friday against Olympic High School, Richmond Raider head coach Bryan Till went to work on trading film and studying the Huskies.

The dedicated sense of responsibility and urgency to prepare shown by the head coach for Richmond’s upcoming second-round playoff game is a mutual feeling coursing throughout the top-seeded Raiders’ locker room by all of the players and coaching staff.

After enjoying a less-rigorous practice week than normal thanks to a first-round bye, Till and the Raiders were back in full force Monday. With players splashing their way through practice as a light mist fell over the practice fields, Richmond’s focus ramped up on two things: itself and the No. 8 Huskies.

“The focus is always on us and what we want to do,” Till explained. “The positive energy is what we use to improve ourselves and that’s always our top priority.

“Now we’re starting to prepare for Hough, and we’re coming off a good week last week,” he added. “We were able to put some new things in, which is always important this time of year. Hough has a lot of great athletes – guys with offers and they play in a tough conference. We’re not overlooking that.”

Till said part of the Raiders’ mindset this week is being aware that the Huskies are “battle tested” from duking it out in the I-Meck Conference, which includes fellow 4AA second-round playoff teams Mallard Creek and Vance high schools.

“If you’re playing in the 4AA West (region) like we are, you’re going to play somebody tough,” Till said bluntly. “We can’t overlook anyone or base teams off records. We know the talent is there.”

It’s also “max week” in the Raider locker room, a time when football players max out at the highest amount of weight in the weight room. One of the parts of the Raider football program that the players and Till enjoy most, it’s an added incentive for players to perform well on and off the field this week.

Something else the Raiders are using to their advantage to prepare for head coach Matthew Jenkins and the Huskies (8-4) is Mother Nature.

“I love the fact it gets cold this time of year, and the weather really amplifies the way teams play in the playoffs,” Till smiled. “It pushes their desire of who wants to win and forces them to make the decision of do we want to play our best in this weather.

“The elements this time of year, the cold and wet weather, it adds to the game,” he continued. “There’s the extra sting when players make tackles and the misting and raining makes the ball more slick, which all test a team’s desire to win.”

One thing that’s certain is Richmond’s desire to win on Friday and remain undefeated on the season (11-0). A win would move the Raiders onto the third round of the state playoffs for the second straight season and would be a potential rematch of last year’s bout with No. 4 Myers Park High School, if the Mustangs also win.

But before the Raiders and Till start thinking about redeeming themselves against Drake Maye and Myers Park, the Hough Huskies are this week’s challenge. And in order to keep the “chase for eight” state championships alive, Till is asking his players to do any means necessary to help the betterment of the team.

“The big thing this time of year is for our players to do whatever is necessary to win,” Till explained. “It might mean guys taking a few more reps, or working in different positions or participating in scout team.

“Wherever they’re needed, the guys are responding and doing the things we ask them with no questions and at full speed,” he closed.

Richmond will continue its full week of practice on Tuesday and Wednesday, before having a final walk-through practice on Thursday. Kickoff against the Huskies is scheduled for Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Raider Stadium.

ROSports will publish a full playoff preview ahead of the game in Thursday’s edition.

Kyle Pillar

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

Submit local sports scores to: kpillar@richmondobserver.com

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