Richmond versus Butler. Raiders battling the Bulldogs. No. 2 against No. 3. However you want to say it, it’s a big game.
If this was a college football game, Chris Fowler, Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit would be pulling into Rockingham and talking about how this is the biggest game of the year, maybe the biggest of the century.
Richmond coach Paul Hoggard told his players to ignore the hype and hoopla surrounding the game because it is just a regular season game and the only ones that really count will begin Nov. 13.
Hoggard is right, but fans could see this game again in November or December. Plus, this game will be an indicator of where the Raiders are and where they will want to be come playoff time.
The Bulldogs come into Raider Stadium with a perfect 2-0 record and are coming off a 54-3 victory over Vance last Friday, while the Raiders are fresh off an offensive explosion against Anson. The Raiders scored on all seven of their second half possessions en route to a 63-28 win over the Bearcats.
The offensive outburst the Raiders displayed was similar to last year’s playoff victory over West Charlotte, when Richmond scored 35 points in the first quarter in its 63-12 win.
Even though Richmond has momentum and home-field advantage, the Raiders may be the underdog to most people across the state. The reason? The Bulldogs will have more top college prospects on the field than the Raiders, but so did Providence and Anson. Richmond proved in its march to the state title, it doesn’t matter how many great athletes you have in your jerseys, will they come together and form a team?
Richmond was able to send several players like Phillip LeGrande and Justin Jackson on to the next level, but as a team, the Raiders were tough to beat in the last half of this season and into this season. This is where Richmond has the advantage over their “athletically superior” opponents, the Raiders are a team.
Of course the Richmond coaching staff would love to line up offensive linemen that are 6-foot-4 and weigh 320 pounds or have linebackers that are 6-foot-1, tip the scales at 235 pounds and run the 40 in 4.3 seconds, but those players don’t come along in high school very often. Instead, the coaching staff puts players in positions to be successful.
Today’s story in the Rave about Kasheem Reid is a prime example. Last season, Reid was moved from his natural position of safety to linebacker because of injuries. The move paid off as the defense settled into a rhythm during its championship run. Now, Reid is back at safety and is leading the team in tackles.
Reid’s sacrifice last year equaled a state title. Now, it’s difficult to find players willing to do what it takes to help his team win because of the “me” factor. Players are worried about their own statistics and not looking bad to recruiters.
Not at Richmond. It’s the team-first mentality that allows the Raiders to call themselves seven-time state champions.