ROCKINGHAM — The Richmond football team has a bye this week, so its game schedule, for now, hasn’t been affected by the threat of Hurricane Florence. But its time on the practice fields has taken a major hit.
The plan during the off week, head coach Bryan Till said, was for the Raiders to get back to working on their fundamentals, put an emphasis on individual and two-minute drills, and stay competitive amongst one another.
They also wanted to go “a little harder” in the weight room since they weren’t preparing to take the field this week.
All of that was cut short, however, when it was announced that school will be closed on Thursday and Friday — and all after-school activities on Wednesday will be called off — in wake of the Category 3 storm.
“Week in and week out we work on different situations, but we don’t get to be as specific,” Till said. “We could’ve really scripted things a lot better this week … so it’s a little frustrating because you only get a couple times of year when you can do all of that.”
Despite the unwanted change of plans, Till does appreciate the fact that his players will get to recover from some of the bumps and bruises suffered across the first four weeks of the season. He’d much rather them go through active-recovery sessions than “sit around on the couch,” but the second-year coach understands what’s at stake when talking about hurricanes.
So to counter the Raiders’ lack of time on the field, Till is going to prepare a handful of slides from the tape on Purnell Swett and send them to his players on Hudl.com — a website where players and coaches can review game footage.
That way everyone can stay on top of their games, mentally, as the focus shifts to next week’s game against the Rams.
“We had a meeting (on Tuesday) and we told the guys that as long as they’ve got power, they’ve still got access to Hudl,” Till said. “And we feel like that’s something our kids will do because their film watching has been up a ton from last year.”
Richmond (3-1) made it out of its non-conference schedule with only a scratch, which is the loss to two-time defending state champion Wake Forest. The weeks before and after that, though, the green-and-gold squad scored convincing wins over Reagan and Pine Forest, respectively. Richmond then capped its non-SAC slate with a thrilling 30-19 victory at Butler last week.
Now, the Raiders look forward to a physical, seven-game conference gauntlet that’ll have huge seeding implications when it’s time to talk state playoffs. Purnell Swett (2-1) has won its last two games after falling to Pine Forest in the season opener.
“Teams are going to run the ball at you, they’re going to play very physical defense and you’re going to get hit,” Till said of what he expects during conference play. “So for us, winning and staying healthy (is most important). We want to make sure we’re managing all the things we can so that we’re the team that’s trending upward and peaking at the right time.”
It’s still to be determined what the NCHSAA and other schools are going to do about all of the cancelled and postponed games this week — and how much damage Hurricane Florence is going to cause around the state. The last time a hurricane resulted in so many schedule changes, Hurricane Matthew in 2016, an extra was week added to the end of the regular season.
“You just worry about things you can control … We did communicate with the boys to make sure they all had a coach’s number before they left, because we want to know that everybody’s OK through this whole thing,” Till said. “When we come back our focus will be football, but right now we want to focus on everybody taking care of themselves and being safe.”
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.