Raiders return to practice to prepare for the unknown

By: By Leon Hargrove Jr. - Sports Editor

ROCKINGHAM — All games may have been postponed this week, but that isn’t keeping the Richmond fall sports teams away from their respective fields/courts to prepare for the upcoming contests — whenever they may be played.

It has been more than two weeks since the Raiders’ boys soccer squad (4-4, 2-1 SAC) has competed in a match, and head coach Chris Larsen is determined to get his guys back into a rhythm. The Raiders had practice after school on Wednesday and again today, with a focus on getting touches, knocking passes together, and shooting an array of shots.

“We’re one of the lucky ones because we can practice,” said Larsen, who was referring to the fact that almost all of the other schools in the Sandhills Athletic Conference have been crippled by the floods left behind by Florence.

“We could possibly have a week or two before we play again so this is a good time to heal up, but we’ve got to be ready to play when we get that phone call,” he added. “Not knowing what the state’s going to do, I can forsee us playing at least three games a week so, again, we’ve got to be in form and ready to go … Every game is important (going forward).”

The Raiders were expected to makeup their game against conference foe Hoke County — which was postponed last week — early next week, but that match will more than likely be pushed back as well. Every program in the SAC is waiting to see what the eight athletic directors decide to do with the schedules during their video conference call on Monday.

“Hopefully by that time we will have a better idea of the plans of each school system and if the NCHSAA will be extending the regular season,” Richmond athletic director Young wrote in an email on Wednesday.

Richmond’s volleyball team (7-4, 4-2 SAC) was able to get in two days of practice as well, allowing players to “let all of their energy out” after going more than a week without playing. The Lady Raiders were one of the two teams that got to compete last week, squeezing in a match at Seventy-First last Tuesday, Sept. 11 — which it won in four sets.

Since then, though, they’ve had three contests postponed due to the weather (vs. Scotland, at Anson, vs. Purnell Swett), so head coach Ashleigh Larsen was happy to have everyone — both varsity and junior varsity — together back in the gym.

“They’ve been a little wild but having them back in the gym, and touching the volleyball again, has been good. They’ve been determined and working pretty hard the past couple of days,” she said. “The varsity girls challenge the JV girls a little bit more, and the JV girls like to keep the varsity girls on their toes, so it’s been pretty good.”

Ashleigh Larsen said that she’s hoping her team’s schedule next week can stay the same. That would mean the Lady Raiders would host Pinecrest on Tuesday, welcome Lee County on Wednesday and visit Jack Britt on Thursday.

“That’s where our minds are set but everything’s still up in the air … I just told them to keep their minds open and get ready to play,” Ashleigh added. “And I’ve told them to stay positive and keep everyone in our conference in their prayers, because we’re definitely one of the most fortunate of everyone.”

Richmond’s cross country, girls golf and girls tennis teams were also able to resume their respective practice schedules.

Head boys cross country coach Reggie Miller said the “long layoff” resulted in both the boys and girls teams having to practice three days in a row in order to prepare for next Tuesday’s meet at Jack Britt — if it stands.

The Lady Raiders tennis team (5-3, 4-1 SAC) — which is on a four-game winning streak — hit the courts today, head coach Michael Way said. The girls golf team met for the first time since its third-place finish at Gates Four Golf & Country Club in Fayetteville early last week.

“I just wanted to get everybody together and hit the ball some, maybe work on particular shots” head girls golf coach Keith Parsons said prior to Thursday’s practice. “I can help out and offer a pointer or two if anyone’s having trouble.”

The Richmond football team (3-1) returned to its practice fields today and will do so again on Friday.

By Leon Hargrove Jr.

Sports Editor

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.

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.