ROCKINGHAM — It’s no secret that much is expected from the head coach of Richmond Senior’s football team.
With former coaches like Daryl Barnes — who brought in five of the school’s seven state championships — still on the minds of Raider fans, the job is undoubtedly one of the toughest in the state. And with it now being almost seven years since Richmond has defeated Scotland, the pressure is rising.
New coach Bryan Till understands what comes with the position, but says he isn’t too worried about it affecting what happens on the football field.
“If anybody puts more pressure on me than I put on myself, then I don’t think I’m doing my job at the right level,” he explained. “And that’s my view on any job. You should put so much pressure on yourself to do a good job, and have a sense of pride in what you do, that you really shouldn’t feel those types of things unless you’re doing something you shouldn’t be doing.”
Till, who was named Richmond’s head football coach early last week, is familiar with the one-county school system. He grew up in northeast Georgia and played four years of football at Franklin County — the county’s only high school. Although it’s been a while, Till remembers how important Friday nights were for the players, coaches and fans.
The 38-year old coach experienced a high-school rivalry similar to the annual showdown between Richmond and Scotland, as Franklin County and Hart County drew a crowd with anywhere between 8,000 to 10,000 people. Getting back in that environment, Till says, will be one of the things he looks forward to the most.
“I got to play and coach in a game like that, so I’m really excited. That’s one of the reasons we do this, because of the experiences we had as kids,” he said. “Everybody I knew was in a one-county system. I’m just glad to get back to that because I think it has a ton of advantages.”
Till’s first day at Richmond isn’t until Monday, but he has already started working. Steve Burdeau, the team’s offensive coordinator, got Till on the team’s Hudl account — which allows him to watch footage from this past season. The new coach also held individual meetings with most of the coaching staff Wednesday evening.
Being on the same page with each coach and understanding the talent on Richmond’s roster are two of the most important aspects of his new job.
“I’m coming in to a totally new staff, to me. I’m just meeting with those guys, getting to know them a little better and seeing what their career goals are — I had a lot of help in my career from coaches,” Till said.
“And the tough thing is there were a lot seniors on the field last year, so I’m trying to not look at those guys and look at the underclassmen,” he continued. “I’m learning and that’s still a process.”
Players that will more than likely show up on Till’s radar are Dante Miller (RB), Jake Ransom (OL), Savion Streeter (LB) and Bobby Terry (WR) — the four returners who made the 2016 all-conference team. Jaleen Baldwin (WR), Tyrese Clark (LB), Delon Wall (LB) and Joerail White (LB) are some other athletes that had a few strong performances for the Raiders last season.
With Leon Zeigler graduating this June, a new era at the quarterback position is set to begin at Richmond. Till and his coaching staff will use spring and summer practices to evaluate the team’s options and eventually make a decision.
“If we’ve got guys comparable, talent-wise, we want guys to compete for the position. We want to put them in leadership situations so we can see who’s going to lead and attack the situation,” he added. “At every position, we’re going to compete.”
Before the Raiders take the field, and starters are named, the former Terry Sanford coach will be tasked with building new relationships in a new environment. A fresh start that could prove beneficial for both Till and Richmond.
“I hope I bring a high level of character — above and beyond anything else. I think that if you take care of your character, the other things should fall in line,” he said. “If you view Richmond County as ‘oh gosh, pressure,’ then you’re going to feel pressure. If you’re excited about the opportunity to add to that legacy, and are honored by that, then that affects how you feel about it.”
Reach sports editor Leon Hargrove Jr. at 910-817-2673 and follow the sports section on Twitter @RCDailySports.
Richmond Senior football fans expect a lot from the coaching staff when the season rolls around, making it one of the higher-pressure jobs in the state. New head coach Bryan Till, however, is familiar with the one-county school system and strongly believes he’s ready for the challenge.