ROCKINGHAM — A couple of impressive outings last week, from Richmond’s defense and Jack Britt’s offense, sets up a much-anticipated conference battle in Fayetteville this week.
The Raiders (4-2, 2-0 SAC) only gave up seven points, forced four punts and intercepted two passes in their Week 7 victory over Pinecrest, while the Buccaneers (3-3, 1-1 SAC) ran for 229 yards and three touchdowns in their win at Lumberton.
As the season has progressed, Richmond head coach Bryan Till believes both teams have started to find their rhythms.
”I really feel like their offense has gotten better and better each week. They’re starting to grasp their concepts and you’re seeing their maturation,” Till said of Jack Britt. “As for us, our play on the defensive line and our communication in the back half were really big last week. Those two things will have to continue for us to be successful.”
This will be the first meeting between the two programs as members of the Sandhills Athletic Conference, but Richmond and Jack Britt have a history that includes nine games played against one another in an eight-year span (2001-2008).
Their final meeting during that time period was the 2008 state championship game, which the Raiders won 38-35 after falling behind by 11 points with a little more than five minutes left in the game. Since then, they’ve only met four times — the last time being a second-round matchup in the 2015 state playoffs.
History won’t matter during Friday’s matchup, however, as both programs have first-year coaches in Till and Brian Randolph — who are familiar with one another from coaching in the Fayetteville area during recent years.
In order for his team to come away with its third consecutive SAC victory, Till is looking for the offense to spread the ball around and the defense to play more confident and more aggressive.
Similar to last week, freshman quarterback Caleb Hood will be called on to utilize all of his weapons: running back duo Dante Miller and Jaheim Covington, senior wide receivers Jaleen Baldwin and Da’Shaun Wallace, and junior wideouts Jahyee Stanback and Bobby Terry.
The defensive unit is beginning to play faster and louder as it undergoes a few changes. Seniors Kaleb Douglas and Jeren Stuart has led the charge in the secondary, junior Shakim Sinclair has improved while filling in for senior Ja’Dyn McNeill on the defensive line and sophomore Joerail White has helped out with his move into the trenches.
“I think confidence is going to be huge in trying to get on a roll here, so we can play well game after game,” Till explained. “The more confidence we have, the more aggressive we can be. And the game of football is a game of agression, so it’s important for us to have that freedom.”
Richmond has yet to lose on the road this season, winning its two away games at Reagan in the season opener and at Pine Forest early last month. Jack Britt has only dropped one of its three home games so far this year, which was a 48-20 loss to Scotland two weeks ago.
“We’ve just got to do what we’re supposed to do and take what they give us each play,” Till added.
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Richmond senior cornerback Tony McRae (7) makes a tackle during Wednesday’s practice. The Raiders are looking to build on last week’s success as they prepare for a conference game against Jack Britt this week.