ROCKINGHAM — The Richmond football team, just like every other high school football squads, is still waiting to see if the North Carolina High School Athletic Association is going to add an extra week to the regular season.
A large number of programs across the state were forced to either cancel or postpone their games over the past two weeks due to Florence and all of the damage it left behind, leaving them unsure of what was going to happen moving forward.
Richmond head coach Bryan Till figured the NCHSAA would extend the regular season — like it did in 2016 following Hurricane Matthew and like the South Carolina High School League voted to do earlier this week — but the association released a memo on Wednesday that left him, and many other coaches, unsettled.
“Schools that have missed football practice for five (5) or more consecutive school days must have practice a minimum of three (3) days, wearing equipment, prior to resuming competition,” the memo read. “As you reschedule football contests, you should attempt to play during your bye week if possible. If that date does not work, you should schedule the game for the next available Monday or Tuesday in accordance with NCHSAA handbook policy 2.2.8.”
The problem with that, Till says, is that the Raiders already had their bye week.
They were set to to open conference play at Purnell Swett tonight, but the Rams missed school all this week and won’t get back into the classroom until Monday. And with teams needing three days of practice before a contest, that means the next possible day for the two schools to play would be next Thursday — the day before Richmond is set to take on Pinecrest.
“That wasn’t even an option,” Till said to the thought of playing Purnell Swett next week. “It’s crazy to see that (the NCHSAA) is waiting this long and still hasn’t extended the season … but we’ll just have to wait and see what they do.
“We’ve got Pinecrest next week, so we’ll break film down and get ready for them,” he added. “We’re just moving forward.”
Hours after the NCHSAA released its memo, the Raiders hit the practice fields after school — their first day back in the hallways since last Wednesday — to get back into the flow of things. They hadn’t been able to gather since last week, so players were eager to get back out there and compete after a week of little to no physical activity.
Although next week is officially game week, Till says his team kept the same routine the last three days. Richmond (3-1) knows what the coaching staff expects at practice and has done a “decent job” considering everything that’s going on.
“The first day, Wednesday, they worked their tails off but they were gassed really fast. (They went) from sitting on the couch to all of sudden being in this heat and humidity with their pads on,” he explained. “You could see the effort was there, but we were a step slow and things. That was rough the first day, but it has picked up a little bit each day.
“I’ve been proud of them for the most part.”
The Raiders have turned their attention to Pinecrest (3-1), which earned a 36-14 victory over Providence in its last outing, while they wait for the NCHSAA to make a decision.
The memo stated that the association is still “studying ways to adjust the playoffs and will make recommendations to the Board of Directors no latter than September 30, 2018” — meaning the board will more than likely revisit the idea of extending the season, amongst other things, before the end of the month.
They won’t be able to reschedule the Purnell Swett game until that happens.
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.