It took a little longer than usual this season. But when that lights-out win finally arrived, it couldn’t have been sweeter.
Last Friday night, the Raiders had an all-around excellent performance in a 51-7 trouncing of Southeastern Conference rival Pinecrest.
All season long, Richmond head coach Paul Hoggard has pointed out similarities between the 2010 Raiders and their 2008 predecessors — which, as any Raider fan knows, won the North Carolina Class 4AA state championship.
One way the 2010 Raiders have distinguished themselves from their 2008 brethren?
They beat Pinecrest at home. Decisively. Emphatically.
This one was pretty much over early in the second quarter. The Raiders led 44-0 at halftime, and would have had a shutout save for a meaningless Pinecrest TD late in the game against the Raiders’ second defensive unit.
When you’re preparing for the playoffs and a drive for an eighth state title, things like defensive shutouts are a luxury: They’re nice, but not necessary.
Last Friday night, I saw a team with fire in its eyes, with something to prove.
Pinecrest showed up at Raider Stadium at the wrong time.
Of course, the Patriots came to Rockingham with not much to play for except for a chance to derail the Raiders’ SEC title hopes.
Give credit as usual to Hoggard and his staff for keeping the Raiders’ eyes focused squarely on the prize: the SEC title.
With a big game against longtime area rival Scotland looming in the horizon, the possibility for a letdown at least existed in theory.
Kudos to the Raiders for getting after the Patriots from the opening kickoff and putting this one way beyond doubt early.
The Raider defense was its usual bone-crunching self, coming up with several takeaways.
In defensive back Steve Houston’s case, literally.
The Raider defender stripped a Pinecrest kick returner inside the Patriot red zone and had a beeline to the goal line for what must have been the easiest TD of his career.
I’ve seen a lot of weird things on the football field over the course of my career.
I’ve seen my share of interceptions and fumbles.
I’ve never seen a kick returner stripped of the ball and left dazed, confused and wondering what just happened.
Now, the Raiders can focus like a laser beam on Scotland, which comes to town with designs on claiming a share of the SEC crown.
The Raiders find themselves in the best possible position this Friday night: Squarely in control of their own proverbial destiny.
Lumberton and Scotland can force a three-way championship with wins and a Richmond loss.
Richmond can derail both teams’ dreams by taking care of business in its house.
Somehow, I expect this Friday night’s game to be one of those contests that goes down to the wire. Scotland apparently travels well, and I know the Raider stands will be full.
With fall in full swing, football weather is in the forecast for Friday night, with temperatures expected to drop into the 30s by late evening.
Now, that’s more like it.
I’m kind of old school when it comes to football.
Football isn’t meant to be played indoors, and it isn’t football weather unless you can see your breath and your fingers are growing numb on the sidelines.
The mood in the Raider locker room this week is one of quiet, steely determination.
I’ve heard from some of the Richmond players that their Scotland counterparts are talking a bit of trash on the Internet message boards.
The Raiders, from what I’ve gathered, plan to save all their instant messaging for the field this Friday night.
Contact sports editor David Vantress at 997-3111, ext. 14 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.