ROCKINGHAM — Discipline on the defensive side of the ball has been the main focus for the Richmond football team as it prepares for this week’s game.
Altough they scored three more touchdowns than Purnell Swett in last week’s win, head coach Bryan Till wasn’t too happy about the Raiders giving up 34 points. He felt like his defense “didn’t really focus on keys” and “lost composure a little bit” after the team took such an early lead.
That’s why Till and his coaching staff have emphasized the importance of remaining poised, in spite of whatever situation the team finds itself in, during practices ahead of Friday’s matchup against Pinecrest.
“Discipline and composure, that’s been our focus,” Till explained. “Regardless of what’s going on, we have to maintain our composure. We can play with anybody when we’re sound fundamentally.”
Richmond (3-2, 1-0 SAC) will welcome the Patriots to Raider Stadium a week after it grabbed its first home win of the season, thanks to a “good start” that included a blocked punt recovered in the endzone and a 66-yard connection from freshman quarterback Caleb Hood to junior wide receiver Jahyee Stanback on the offense’s second play from scrimmage.
The Raiders had struggled to get consistent production in the first half prior to last week, but hope that’s behind them now that they’ve figured out what was missing during the first four games.
“I definitely think we have a better understanding of how important it is to come out and start the game well,” Till said. “Our kids really understand that, so I want to see that again this week. We have to be able to carry that over.”
Pinecrest (3-2, 0-1 SAC) isn’t going to make that an easy challenge, however, as its offensive unit has a tendency to use every second of the play clock to its advantage. Because the Patriots will milk the clock and then snap the ball at the last second, they’re able to lull opposing defenses to sleep and pick up the necessary yards for a first down.
And with senior running back Zaythan Hill and junior wideout Alexander Roberts on the field, their talents at the disposal of junior quarterback Greg VanSteen, Pinecrest always has a chance to move the chains or find the end zone.
“They present a lot of challenges because they’re extremley disciplined. What they do, they’re going to do well,” Till said. “Coach (Chris) Metzger does a good job of calling the offense and trying to find matchups and weak points. They’re going to get their kids in space and get their playmakers the ball.
“So for us to have a big start, we’ve got to have a stop on defense early,” he continued. “If we can score and put pressure on them, that’s going to be huge. But we’ve got to come out, get good field position and get good stops early on.”
While Richmond will be looking to win its second game in row, something it hadn’t done yet this season, Pinecrest will be playing with the hopes of ending a current two-game losing streak.
The Raiders defeated Reagan, lost to Wake Forest, dominated Pine Forest and then fell to Butler in the first four weeks. The Patriots won their first three games of the season, but have dropped their last two at Providence and versus Seventy-First.
Till sees those back-to-back losses, though, as Pinecrest’s way of showing that it can hang with some of the best programs the area has to offer when given the opportunity.
“Both of those teams (Providence, Seventy-First) are going to be late-round playoff teams. So that doesn’t tell you anything but that they (Pinecrest) can compete with anybody — and they’re going to,” he added.
Reach sports editor Leon Hargrove Jr. at 910-817-2673 and follow the sports section on Twitter @RCDailySports.