ROCKINGHAM — When he was hired, head coach Bryan Till’s main objectives were to get acclimated with everyone inside the program and make sure they were all on the same page heading into his debut season.
Now that he has a little more than a year under his belt, Till is ready to reveal to the outside world what the Raiders have going on right now and what they plan to do in the weeks, months and years to come.
That’s why this Thursday, Feb. 22, at 6 p.m. in the school cafeteria, the Richmond football program will be hosting a “community night” for anyone interested in being on the same page and also ready to take that next step with the team.
“One of the things we’re hoping to do is to get a lot of folks from the community — and also kids who may play for us in 10 years — here so they can understand the whole process and what’s going to be expected,” Till said. “Because we are a one-county school, I think it’s extremely important to have everyone going in the same direction.”
Till is well aware that the first official game won’t be played for another six months, but he also understands that his second season on the Richmond sidelines will be here in no time. Spring practice begins in less than three months, summer workouts start in June and the first mandatory day of the season is marked for Monday, July 30.
Therefore, he wants to lay the groundwork early “because this is the time when most of the work takes place.”
“We want our guys to look out (into the crowd) and see that they’re playing for something bigger than themsevles,” he added.
Perhaps the most anticipated moment of Thursday night’s event will be the introduction of a 12-man leadership team that has been handpicked by the coaching staff.
Over the next 10 weeks, the dozen players selected are scheduled to go through a training process that will help them learn how to speak to their teammates and how to handle certain situations that may arise during a season. They’ll also be in charge of things like making sure the locker room is clean, pre-game warmup routines, giving their opinion on certain disciplinary decisions — if needed — and much more.
“We’re going to give them some responsibilites and different roles so they can continue to evolve,” Till said. “They’re going to help us set the standard for the rest of the team to follow.”
Opening the door for players to have more of an influence, and being as transparent as possible with the community about what the future holds, is something that Till believes will make for a better experience once the season finally rolls around.
The Raiders are expecting to finish better than 7-5 overall and 5-2 in conference play like they did in 2017. They’re looking to move past the first round of the state playoffs and ultimately have a shot at the 4AA title in December.
And that journey begins Thursday.
“What I really want to see (over the next few months) is us all working together and working really hard in the same direction … I want everyone to understand the big picture and what this program is all about,” Till said. “We’re pursuing a state championship with everything we’ve got.”
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.