ROCKINGHAM — Maybe the most impressive thing Bryan Till has seen over the past week is the response from his players whenever they’ve been put in situations, on the football field, that are outside of their comfort zones.
Whether it was at UNC-Chapell Hill’s “King of the Hill” 7-on-7 tournament last Thursday, its lineman camp the following day, or Western Carolina University’s camp on Tuesday, the Raiders have risen to the occassion each time.
“I really liked how our kids responded. They haven’t turned down any kind of competition and have been excited to be out (on the field) all day,” he said. “There have been some long, hot days and if you look around, there’s a lot of heat and there’s a lot of things wilting. But our kids haven’t wilted. They’ve stood up and responded to the challenges very well.”
The Richmond football team had a solid showing during the “King of the Hill” tournament at UNC last week, winning five straight before falling to South Mecklenburg — which it beat in its first game of the day — in the tournament’s playoff. After taking down the Sabres to start, Richmond beat Hedgesville (W.Va.), Northern Durham and Calvert Hall (Md.), respectively.
Till watched his team demolish Camden (S.C.) by a score of 28-6 in the first round of the playoffs but it couldn’t escape South Mecklenburg for a second time, coming up short in the overtime period.
On Tuesday, the Raiders’ varsity squad made the trip to Terry Sanford — where Till coached from 2012-2016 — to compete in a satelitte camp hosted by Western Carolina. Players were tested in the 40-yard dash and competed in numerous individual drills, and at the end of the day, got some good feedback from the Catamounts’ coaching staff.
“Several of their coaches talked about how our kids finished every drill. They praised our kids on how hard they competed at everything today,” Till said. “I was really pleased to hear that from those guys. That means a lot.
“They said they see a lot of camps and one of the words they have to use the most often is ‘finish’ because (other) kids don’t finish drills,” he added, “but they were impressed that our kids didn’t (need to hear that).”
The momentum from the first week and half of summer workouts, Till hopes, will carry over into the 7-on-7 competiton against Cape Fear on Thursday and beyond. Unlike the tournament at UNC, this week’s scrimmage with Cape Fear will be more of a “practice and reps-type deal,” which gives Till the opportunity to “get a look at some other guys.”
And now that the Raiders have a more consistent schedule, in terms of the times that junior varsity and varsity players take the practice field throughout the week, they will be able to focus in on what’s most important for each position group.
“I think for us, it’s just about continuing to grow and get better each time,” he said. “We’re going to change some things up for the kids during workouts, to give them new and different challenges on a regular basis, because we don’t want them to get comfortable. We want to continue putting our kids in uncomfortable situations so they can get used to overcoming.”
Rising junior Jaheim Covington, right, lowers his shoulders in order to finish a running drill during summer practice.
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.