ROCKINGHAM — Bryan Till had only been on the job for 10 days when the Richmond football program held its annual banquet last year, so he mostly played the background.
This time around, however, he’ll be a part of the celebration.
Richmond will recognize the efforts of Till and the 2017 football team at its 46th annual football banquet on Monday, Jan. 22, in the school cafeteria. The ceremony will begin at 6 p.m. and there’s a $5 fee for anyone other than the football players.
“It’s always kind of bittersweet,” Till said of banquets. “You realize it at the end of the season but then you start to relive that (some of) these kids aren’t going to be here with us next year. And you think about the memories you have with those guys.”
Till, in his first season as head coach, led the Raiders to a 7-5 overall record, an appearance in the NCHSAA 4AA State Playoffs and a second-place finish — tied with Jack Britt — in the Sandhills Athletic Conference.
He also had a league-high 11 players make the all-conference team: Kaleb Douglas, Jaquan Everett, Caleb Hood, Victor Lucero, Daryn Mason, Tony McRae, Dante Miller, Gordon Pihl, Jake Ransom, Malik Stanback and Delon Wall.
“Even though the record wasn’t what we wanted it to be, it was good to see those kids and coaches do things the way it should be done day in and day out,” he said last November.
Every year, players with the highest GPA in their respective classes are acknowledged and there’s a presentation of the William E. Eustler Award, which is given to a player who is well-rounded and puts the team first.
At last year’s banquet, Till — like almost every other member of the audience — didn’t have the inside scoop on which players were at the top of their class or who was going to be rewarded for their selflessness.
On Monday, though, he’ll take pride in the fact that he’s been able to build relationships with the four student-athletes who currently have the highest GPAs, the soon-to-be winner of the Eustler Award, and everyone else within the Raider football program.
“Coming here and seing these kids go through transitions, I start to think about myself and the growth that’s happened in the last year,” Till said. “It’s a special time in these kids’ lives. It’ll be a good time to get together.”
Reach sports editor Leon Hargrove Jr. by phone at 910-817-2673 or by email at [email protected] For stories, scores and updates, follow the Daily Journal’s sports section on Twitter @RCDailySports.