ROCKINGHAM — Head coach Bryan Till won’t let Hoke County’s overall record fool his football team. He’s seen the footage, looked over the box scores and is very aware of the Bucks’ ability to put points on the scoreboard.
So when the Raiders travel to Raeford on Friday, they aren’t going to focus on the fact that their opponent hasn’t won a game this year. Instead, they’ll be looking to get off the “rollercoaster” and take control of what’s left of the season — all the while respecting the Hoke talent that’ll be lined up across from them.
”You can see (on tape) that these guys are pretty athletic. They may not be winning ball games but it’s not because these guys can’t do some stuff — they make some nice plays,” Till said. “And our kids understand that.”
Hoke (0-7, 0-3 SAC) will more than likely rely on senior quarterback Kevin Thorpe and senior wideout Andre Pegues.
Thorpe, Till says, has a “really good arm” and is “very elusive,” which makes him a threat to score in a variety of ways. And Pegues, who verbally committed to continue his career at East Carolina this summer, gives him a 6-3, 200-pound target.
“The focus is really on us because we didn’t play well last week. We gave up 40 points as a defense,” Till said. “So we need to go out, play with some pride and do our job better than we did (last week).”
Richmond (4-3, 2-1 SAC) is coming off what most would consider an upset loss at Jack Britt in Week 8. Its defense, which had problems getting off the field, gave up six touchdowns and more than 400 yards of total offense in the 41-20 loss.
Till, the team’s defensive coordinator, saw his unit stay on the field for 14 plays on Jack Britt’s opening drive, which resulted in a rushing touchdown. He then witnessed the Bucs drive 99 yards — at the end of the third quarter and into the fourth — for another rushing score.
With all of that time being ran off the clock, at the expense of the Raiders’ defense, their offensive unit didn’t have as many possessions as usual and struggled as well.
“There was a little frustration on Monday with knowing that we could’ve played better than we did. And I don’t think you want the kids to come in and be okay with losing a game like that,” Till said.
“But the end of practice Monday and through yesterday have been good. We pulled up some young guys (from the junior varsity team) and they’ve brought some energy to practice,” he continued. “I mean, we’re only talking about two days of practice, but it’s been a good week so far. We’ll see Friday if we’re focused up.”
With four games remaining in the regular season, the Raiders still have their sights set on winning the inaugural Sandhills Athletic Conference championship. For that to happen, they would have to win the rest of their games.
If they are able to do so, at worst, things could end in a three-way tie atop the conference standings.
“I met with every senior on Monday about what we can still acheive this year…and everything we’ve wanted to achieve is still there,” Till said. “The biggest thing we’ve got to do is come play good football on both sides of the ball, and not make mistakes. The other stuff takes care of itself when you do that.”
Reach sports editor Leon Hargrove Jr. at 910-817-2673 and follow the sports section on Twitter @RCDailySports.