ROCKINGHAM — It’s no secret that Richmond’s football program is arguably the most storied program in the state with 477 wins and seven state championships to its name, but “what does tradition matter if it’s not passed down?”
That’s the question first-year head football coach Bryan Till asked when speaking about the importance of this year’s team getting an opportunity to interact with former Raiders from the 1997 squad who won the first of back-to-back state championships.
Current players already have daily interactions with offensive coordinator Brad Denson — starting quarterback for both of those championships — but they’ll be able to hear from some of his old teammates when the ‘97 team celebrates its 20-year anniversary at Friday’s Homecoming game.
“If it’s something that’s just hanging on the wall somewhere, the kids can’t identify with it,” Till said. “But this makes it real for the kids. And I think it’s going to fuel their desire and give them a better understanding.”
The former Raiders will get together and fellowship with one another outside the football stadium from 5:30-7 p.m. and will then be recognized by the school at halftime. They’ll also have the chance to connect with the current team before it takes the field against Lumberton.
Till said Wesley Jackson — a kicker for the ‘97 team who helped Denson put the reunion together — has been in to talk to the team in the past and hopes more of that continues going forward, expressing that “those kinds of interactions are important.”
“We want to have an open-door policy for those guys to come in and interact with our guys,” Till said of Friday’s event. “We don’t have a lot of stuff scripted, other than just to have things opened up for them to be here.”
Richmond (5-3, 3-1 SAC) is entering the final stretch of the regular season and is still eyeing the No. 1 spot in the Sandhills Athletic Conference standings — even though it already has one loss in conference play.
Maybe speaking with, and learning from, former players who went on to win the much-coveted state championship trophy will motivate the Raiders as they prepare for the end of the regular season and the start of postseason play.
“I hope it gives us a really good spark, because everything we want is still in front of us,” Till added.
Reach sports editor Leon Hargrove Jr. at 910-817-2673 and follow the sports section on Twitter @RCDailySports.