Tuesday, 26 November 2019 22:02

Raiders' secondary primed for Myers Park's passing game

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Zyier Baldwin (CB), Dereck Barringer (S), Chris Campolieta, D'Marcus Harrington (CB) and Xavion Lindsey (S) are looking to shut down Myers Park on Friday. Zyier Baldwin (CB), Dereck Barringer (S), Chris Campolieta, D'Marcus Harrington (CB) and Xavion Lindsey (S) are looking to shut down Myers Park on Friday. Kyle Pillar — Sports Editor.

ROCKINGHAM — When they were freshmen three years ago, the four current starting members of the Richmond Senior High School secondary knew they could develop into something special.


Flash forward to 2018 when cornerbacks Zyier Baldwin and D’Marcus Harrington, and safeties Dereck Barringer and Xavion Lindsey, were the new starting unit on a Raider varsity team and were quickly making names for themselves. They locked down the second level of the field and helped Richmond to an 11-2 record.

Now a year later, the foursome of seniors has been a part of a perfect season and is preparing for the biggest game of its career -- and is out, along with the rest of the Richmond Raiders, for a shot at redemption in the third round of the state playoffs.

The No. 1 seeded Raiders will welcome in No. 4 Myers Park High School on Friday in the quarterfinal round of the NCHSAA 4AA playoffs. It’s a rematch of last season’s contest, and this time defensive backs coach Chris Campolieta and his four seniors are hoping for a different outcome than last year’s 37-14 elimination loss.

“These guys came to us as freshmen, the same year I came in as a coach,” Campolieta said. “We knew they were going to be four great DBs from the get go. The last two seasons I’ve watched them learn and play and grow, build each other up, and watch them respond to adversity.

“They’re faster and stronger and bigger this year, and their mental experience is what makes them special,” he added. “Fans can expect that we’re going to do what we’ve done all year -- play hard, play fast. They know what they need to do, and we’re going to try and make some big plays.”

When the Mustangs and Alabama recruit Drake Maye visit Rockingham on Friday, the Raider secondary has one thing on its mind: shut down Myers Park’s passing game. Maye, the team’s quarterback, is averaging 262.8 passing yards per game this year, and put up 321 yards against Richmond last season. 

But another year of experience, 12 more games under their belts and countless hours in the film room and on the practice field have transformed Richmond’s secondary into something entirely different.

“We’ve watched a lot of film and have been practicing harder than ever,” Barringer commented. “In a way we want revenge from last year, but we know it’s more about helping the team win and moving on.

“We’re going to be focused and ready to play Friday,” he added. “Being physical and running to the ball will help is. We’ve got to do what we’ve been doing all year.”

Barringer leads the four secondary players with 68 total tackles. Harrington, a Campbell University commit who often covers the opposing team’s top receiver, has collected 45 tackles and Lindsey isn’t far behind with 41 tackles. Baldwin, who has made eight pass breakups this season, has 25 tackles.

Lindsey leads the team in interceptions this year with three, his most recent being a red zone pick that proved to be the turning point in Richmond’s win over Hough in the second round.

Barringer, who has a team-high 15 passes defended, also has two interceptions. Harrington has flashed his hands, breaking up nine pass attempts and blocking a punt against Seventy-First High School.

“It’s all a result of good coaching and knowing what to look for on the field,” Lindsey explained. “Whether it’s an interception or a pass breakup, it pumps us up. When one of us makes a play, then the others want to make a play. We really feed off that energy.”

While they have a strong bond on the field for the 48 minutes of game time on Friday nights, the four defensive backs also spend a lot of time off the field together. Whether it’s at school in the classroom, at home after practice or just hanging out on the weekends, the Richmond secondary players are always scheming to get better.

They’ve even come up with a nickname for themselves.

“We call ourselves ‘Anonymous’ because any one of us can go make a play at any point in the game,” Harrington shared. “We all know each other and how we play, and that lets us have really good chemistry on the field. We’re stronger this year and we’ve got good speed.”

When they take the field Friday against the Mustangs, Baldwin, Barringer, Harrington and Lindsey will just be four of 11 defensive players looking to slow Maye and company. Richmond’s defensive line has gotten tougher as the season has progressed, and its linebacking group, led by Gavin Russell and CJ Tillman, among others, provides a physical presence in the middle of the field.

“We want to show people we can be depended on in any situation in the game,” Baldwin explained. “We’re trying to prove we’re the best DBs in the state. Our bond is so strong and that has made us better.

“Knowing where we are on the field at all times has taught us each other’s strengths and weaknesses,” he added. “That lets us know where we’re going to be, and how to help each other throughout the game.”

Myers Park brings in a handful of wide receivers who average impressive numbers each game. The leading receiver is senior Moose Muhammad, who is averaging 100.6 receiving yards per game. He leads the Mustangs with 51 receptions, 1,006 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Richmond’s secondary will also have to be tuned into senior Porter Rooks, who has 801 yards on 41 catches and averages 72.8 yards per game. Jordan Bly and Twan Flip are also targets at Maye’s disposal, catching 27 and 23 receptions, respectively.

“Any great group has to be close off the field, and these four do everything together,” Campolieta said. “I’m most proud to have been able to watch them grow from boys to great young men. Their grades have improved, they’re leaders on the field and they expect greatness from each other.

“We’re looking to make up for some of the plays we missed last year,” he closed. “I think we are the best group of DBs in the state, and we get a chance to prove that Friday.”

Kickoff against Myers Park is set for 7:30 p.m. at Raider Stadium.

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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