ROCKINGHAM — In order to reach its ultimate goal, which is a state championship, the Richmond Senior football team has to see how it stacks up against some of the best programs in North Carolina.
And since the Raiders have to wait a while until their Week 2 matchup with defending 4A champion Wake Forest, they decided to test their skills against the team that finished as the state’s runner-up in 2016.
Richmond went head-to-head with Cape Fear in a 7-on-7 competition for a little more than an hour early Thursday morning. That was the second 7-on-7 the team had participated in this week — having traveled to Lee County on Tuesday.
“I liked the effort. There’s still some execution issues on both sides of the ball, but the effort, I thought, was pretty high all day,” head coach Bryan Till said. “It was a great thing to go against guys who expect to play at a high level.”
Running plays and tackling aren’t allowed in 7-on-7s, placing all of the focus on quarterbacks, receivers and defenders. Players aren’t allowed to tackle, as one or two-hand contact stops the play, but that didn’t keep the Raiders or the Colts from being aggressive.
Both defenses were extremely active throughout the battle, proving they’re anxious to put on the pads.
“We were tagging kind of hard but nobody’s getting upset, because they’re (Cape Fear) a program that understands football,” Till added.
Rising sophomore Dereck Barringer may have made the play of the day — and gave the team its biggest momentum boost — when he raced across the field and grabbed an interception with one hand late in the session. That kind of effort is what Till enjoyed the most about his defensive unit’s performance Thursday morning, saying his team did a better job “flying to the ball” than it did Tuesday.
There were times when defenders reacted a few seconds too late after the opposing quarterback released the ball, however, as Richmond’s secondary is still adapting to the switch to more of a press-man coverage.
As for the Raiders’ offensive unit, rising senior Kaleb Douglas was the most consistent at the quarterback position. He had four completions in a row at one point in the day, which included two well-placed throws to Jaleen Baldwin and Bobby Terry and a touchdown pass to Malik Stanback.
“He understands the game a little better because he’s been up at this level a little more,” Till said of Douglas. “I think all three guys are pretty gifted, but right now he’s making decisions the fastest…He’s doing some good things.”
Douglas — along with Jada Edwards and Caleb Hood — was caught forcing passes into coverage a few times, but Till says that’s because passers feel the need to get rid of the ball in 7-on-7s. Although in a real game, they would usually tuck the ball and run.
“That’s a product of 7-on-7 that all coaches hate…we don’t want to get them in those bad habits,” Till said. “I think they all have to (learn) not to force it and just eat it. That’s something I’d like to see corrected.
“But it was a good experience and I feel like that made us a lot better,” he continued. “The big thing is to make sure you get better every time you come out here.”
Richmond will go through its first of two dead periods next week, where no team activities are allowed, before hosting its last 7-on-7 battle of the summer against Malboro County — which begins at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, July 11.
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Richmond Senior’s Jaleen Baldwin looks back at a Cape Fear defender and he’s forced out of bounds during Thursday’s 7-on-7 scrimmage.
The Richmond Senior football team hosted Cape Fear early Thursday morning for a 7-on-7 competition on its main practice field. Richmond’s secondary is making the switch to more of a press-man coverage this season under first-year head coach Bryan Till.