For at least one week the naysayers can be kept at bay about the Richmond Senior defense.
The Raiders limited Anson to less than 150 yards of total offense in posting their first shutout since blanking Providence 35-0 in the first round of the state 4AA playoffs on Nov. 12, 2010. The win over the neighbors to the west was also the school’s 100th whitewashing in its 41-year history.
While the Bearcats will not be listed with any of the top offenses in the state, Anson did give the Richmond coaching staff cause to be worried because it does the one thing which may prove to be the Raiders’ Achilles this season — run the ball between the tackles.
In Week 1, Sun Valley’s Albert Funderburk found plenty of running room right up the middle of Richmond’s defense. Funderburk rushed for more than 200 yards and two scores in the 56-28 loss.
After falling behind in the second half, Lee County got away from trying to run the football but still managed to go over the 100-yard mark in the contest.
If you want to point at a statistic which the Raiders have had a difficult time eliminating in the first two weeks, it was allowing the opposition to get huge chunks of yards.
Both the Spartans and the Yellow Jackets were successful in getting big plays from their offense. Sun Valley had four plays of more than 20 yards, all on the ground. Lee County mixed it up, getting one run and three pass receptions exceed 20 yards.
Against the Bearcats, those mistakes vanished.
The biggest gain Anson was able to mount against Richmond were two 14-yard runs. One in middle part of the second quarter and the other in the waning moments of the contest.
While the shutout is a nice notch in the belt, the real tests are yet to come for this defense.
A date with Hoke County is now 24 days away and it is very likely both schools will be undefeated coming into that matchup. The Bucks’ Detrez Newsome is putting up some eye-popping statistics through the first three games. After rambling for more than 400 in the season opener, Newsome has come back down to Earth — sort of. The senior has still rushed for more than 100 yards in the last two outings. Stopping him will be key for Richmond to avenge last season’s road loss to Hoke.
The Raiders are still piling up yards and points on offense. Richmond scored on nine of its 11 possessions against Anson after getting points on eight of its 10 drives vs. Lee County. In both of those contests, the only time the Raiders did not score was because of a fumble or the end of the half or game.
Richmond coach Paul Hoggard, even though he will not show it, has to have a smile on his face with the efficiency of his offense. The Raiders are definitely built to strike quick with speedsters like Dakwa Nichols and Trent Bostick. Throw in the abilities of Elijah Goodwin, Raheem Bowden and the other weapons at Hoggard’s disposal and Richmond can light up a scoreboard in seconds.
It’s fun to watch this offense move players in and out of the lineup and not miss a beat, but when the air begins to get a little chill in it and the SEC season begins, let’s see how much it will bother the Raiders on either side of the football.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com