Monday, 12 October 2020 14:36

Raider Elite 18U falls to Butler, Weddington despite late rallies

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Senior Dalton Stroman (with football) is congratulated by coach Errol Hood following one of his team-leading five touchdowns. Senior Dalton Stroman (with football) is congratulated by coach Errol Hood following one of his team-leading five touchdowns. Kyle Pillar — Sports Editor.

WEDDINGTON — The Raider Elite 18U travel football team struggled in its week three matchups Saturday.

Competing in the Blazing 7-on-7 league at Weddington Optimist Park, the Raiders dropped both of their games. Richmond was originally scheduled for a big show under the lights against Myers Park, but rain and the late backing out of the Mustangs saw the Raiders play Butler and Weddington instead.

To open the night, the Raiders fell to Weddington 39-18. Butler, which is tied with Myers Park and Weddington for the league lead in wins, went on to defeat Richmond 54-41 in the final contest of the night.

Saturday’s performance was a drastic change from the previous weekend when head coach Errol Hood’s team earned two wins and scored over 100 points in two games. The Raiders now sit at 3-3 on the season.

“We expected to play Myers Park and we were ready for them, but they didn’t show,” Hood explained. “Instead we played two of the top-dog teams in Butler and Weddington. The conditions were wet and we didn’t prepare for those teams, but it’s no excuse.

“Our guys have to figure out how to come together in adverse situations,” he continued. “Change is hard and defensively our communication needs to get better. When we’re playing at our best, we’re the best team in the league.”

Richmond’s defense was without senior Isaiah Jones and junior Kelay Lindsey, both safeties, due to injury. That forced Hood to sub in offensive players Caleb Hood, Kellan Hood and Tremel Jones in the secondary.

Against Weddington, the Raiders trailed 39-0 through the first part of the second half. Senior quarterback Caleb Hood would find senior wide receiver Dalton Stroman twice late in the game for scores.

Both of Stroman’s touchdowns were from five yards, the first over the middle, followed by a jump ball in the back right corner of the end zone. Junior wide receiver Kellan Hood and Jones each caught a two-point conversion.

The Raider defense also stalled Weddington on its final drive to earn two points on a turnover on downs.

Butler’s offense and speed proved to be trouble for the Raiders, as the Bulldogs scored three 40-yard touchdowns on go routes in the night’s finale. Junior linebacker Jaleak Gates got Richmond on the board early with a pass break up on third down to force a turnover.

Following an interception by Caleb Hood, Butler scored again, but its extra point attempt was broken up by junior cornerback Jamari Broady. Jones, who was the league’s MVP last weekend, answered with a 40-yard touchdown from Caleb Hood up the middle of the field. 

Trailing 9-8, Richmond’s defense allowed a long touchdown to Butler on the next play from scrimmage. On the ensuing drive, catches by Kellan Hood and Jones set up senior wide receiver Jakolbe Baldwin’s touchdown catch from 18 yards out.

Another long touchdown by Butler was answered by Stroman, who made an athletic grab over a defensive back in the back left corner of the endzone. The extra point attempt caught by Kellan Hood pulled the Raiders within two points, 23-21.

The teams traded scores again, with Baldwin making his second scoring grab of the game after a Butler touchdown. Richmond’s conversion attempt failed, leaving the score 28-27, the closest they’d get the rest of the game.

Butler jumped ahead 44-27, but in rally mode, Stroman caught his fifth and final touchdown of the weekend to stop the bleeding. With 6:00 left in the game, a two-point try was no good. Broady earned Richmond two more points when he broke up another pass attempt on third down with just over four minutes remaining.

Trailing 54-35 and the clock expiring, Caleb Hood launched one final touchdown to Baldwin, a 40-yard strike. 

“We did rally and made some big plays when we were down, and our leaders stepped up,” Coach Hood said. “Defensively we need to get better. Overall, the good was we got to see what some of the guys could do in different situations.

“In the end, whether they’re getting burnt or burning people, our guys are getting battle tested,” Hood closed. “My goal is to teach them before February what they need to do to be ready. I want them to challenge themselves to get better.”

Hood said because of injuries, the Raider Elite team will take the next two weeks off. Richmond will return to action on Halloween against Scotland’s travel team.

“Hopefully we get our face back and get ready for the playoffs,” Hood said.

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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