ROCKINGHAM — Early Thursday morning, the Richmond football team welcomed Chesterfield (S.C.), Union Pines and West Bladen to the school’s practice field for its final 7-on-7 competition of the summer.
Head coach Bryan Till was happy to see that the Raiders’ offensive unit was able to find its rhythm after such a rough outing earlier this week, but he wasn’t too pleased with how the defense started the day. He’s hoping they can find a balance.
“We’ve got to get to a point where it’s not one or the other and both (units) just come out ready to go regardless, but overall, I thought we did some good things,” Till said. “With four teams here, we got a lot of reps in and that’s the biggest thing.”
Rising sophomore quarterback Caleb Hood, who threw three interceptions on Tuesday, came out focused and found rising senior wideout Bobby Terry for a touchdown on the Raiders’ first possession — which was against Chesterfield.
He would jog back on the field for the offensive unit’s second drive moments later and complete four straight passes (splitting them between Jakoble Baldwin and Jahan Jones) before finding rising junior Hakeim Blue for another score. Hood’s third touchdown pass was a well-placed ball to Jordyn Wall, rising senior, near the corner of the endzone on the first play of the team’s third possesion.
Rising junior quarterback Noah Altman threw back-to-back touchdowns to Terry and rising junior Justin Morman right after Hood’s pass to Wall, and then found Blue and Baldwin for a couple more scores on the fourth drive.
“I really loved how our offense adjusted to the coverages they saw from Chesterfield the other day,” Till said. “That’s what we need to see, guys being able to come out here and implement the things we talk about.”
Defensively, the Raiders made some mistakes in their coverage that resulted in a couple of early touchdowns for the Rams, but they eventually locked in and were able to keep the opposing teams’ scoring to a minimum.
Both rising senior Eric Burke, safety, and rising junior Swae Harrington, cornerback, finished the day with two interceptions, and rising junior safety Dereck Barringer was able to grab one of his own.
“What we’ve done is tried to work one or two coverages every time we’re out here … and that was a part of the reason why we didn’t have success early against Chesterfield,” Till said of his defense. “We left some guys open, so we’ll have to go back and look at it on film and get (those mistakes) corrected … but the rest of the day went pretty well.”
While the skill players from all four teams were competing on the furthest practice field, Richmond’s offensive and defensive line coaches Kemp McSween and Milton Swinnie, respectively, were putting their guys through an array of drills on the piece of green right outside the softball diamond.
This year’s O-Line is a young group that’s been working on “execution, technique and knowing the assignments” while heavily relying on the leadership of rising senior center Jake Ransom, a two-time all-conference selection who’s the only returning offensive lineman who has taken a snap in varsity game.
“I like how they’ve competed and been aggressive but the deal with us is that we’re a whole lot younger than we were last year, so the guys are trying to learn and understand the speed of varsity,” McSween said. “We’re trying to bring five or six guys along who we think we can put in there on a Friday night … and Jake has been a good leader all around for these boys.”
As for the defensive linemen, Swinnie is expecting rising seniors Divine Nicholson and Rasheed Patrick and rising junior Kyjuan Wall to lead the way in the trenches. Patrick, defensive end, improved all of his numbers in the weight room over the spring and Swinnie believes he’s going to have “a good year” as one of the team’s main pass rushers.
“We’ve been trying to clean up a lot of the fundamental work with our hands and our feet separation, and just trying to get better off the snap of the football,” Swinnie said. “The future looks bright, we’ve just got to keep working, keep improving fundamentally, and I think we’ll be fine.”
Richmond is off next week because of the state’s second mandatory dead period, but it will return on Monday, July 23, for one more week of summer practice. The following Monday, July 30, football season officially begins.
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.