ROCKINGHAM — The fact that the Richmond football team “laid an egg” at Jack Britt a season ago, right after one its best defensive efforts, has head coach Bryan Till stressing the importance of consistency ahead of this week’s game against the Buccaneers.
The second-year coach doesn’t want his team’s shutout victory at Pinecrest last week — or the fight they put up in the win at Butler early last month — to be “a flash in the pan.” Instead, he would like for those kinds of performances to be the standard.
That way, the Raiders can continue their winning ways and avoid another upset when they host the Bucs on Friday.
“I think consistency is how you win conference championships and it’s how you go deep in the playoffs,” Till said. “Our guys have shown they have that ability up to this point, but it’s a long season … so staying consistent is really important.”
Richmond (4-1, 1-0 SAC), which is hoping to to win four in a row for first time since the 2015 season, looks to avenge last year’s stunning three-touchdown loss, 20-41, at Boneyard Stadium.
That game, Till said, ended the way it did because of his team’s lackluster communication, non-physical play and inability to make plays when necessary — resulting in the Raiders giving up 406 yards and six touchdowns in the defeat.
“That’s been on our minds,” he said of the 2017 meeting. “I think the biggest thing that led up to the upset was that our communication wasn’t great on the field, from the standpoint of all the different formations and things they were doing.
“Even moreso,” he continued, “we just didn’t play the game physical, the way it needs to be played, and we came up on the short end because of it. … We have to avoid that by going out and being excited about making those plays this year.”
Jack Britt (3-2, 1-0 SAC) is without two of the main offensive threats from last year’s squad. It said goodbye to speedy wideout Barry Elliott, who graduated this past June, and lost starting running back Glenn Young, who ran for 109 yards and three scores in Britt’s win over Richmond last year, to an ACL tear over the summer.
The Bucs still present a lot of problems when they have the ball, however, thanks to their many different formations. They often keep defenses guessing by drawing up power runs, getting into the wildcat with senior linebacker Nico Perofeta under center, spreading out into empty sets, setting up run-pass option plays, and much more.
With all those possibilities, it’s imperative that the Raiders stay locked in — from the front line all the way into the secondary.
“We’re trying to make sure we’re aligned right and we check (our keys) and cover correctly. We have to know where we’re supposed to be every snap,” Till explained. “They make you think so much that you’re slow.
“And when you’re playing slow, you can’t play good defense.”
Scoring early and often is going to be a focus for Richmond on Friday, as its looking to put pressure on a Jack Britt offense that struggled to find the end zone in the team’s quadruple-overtime 15-14 victory over Lumberton last week.
The Raiders scored a touchdown in every quarter in their dominant win at Pinecrest. The Bucs’ offense, on the other hand, crossed the goal line on its opening drive against Lumberton and then went scoreless until the go-ahead score in the fourth OT.
“We just have to play the best we can play and see what happens … but we can’t go out and just lay an egg,” Till said.
BREAST CANCER AWARENESS
On Friday, players will be wearing a pink ribbon on their helmets in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The coaching staff decided to go with the ribbon, instead of allowing players to wear pink accessories (gloves, socks, headbands, wristbands, shoes, etc.), so that players aren’t trying to stand out by themselves.
“Coach Campo (defensive backs coach Chris Campolieta), whose mother actually passed away from breast cancer, did a great job of bringing that point home to the guys on Monday,” Till said. “That pink is about recognizing those fighters, those survivors, and those families that have endured through that. … That’s what’s most important.”
Richmond’s Caleb Hood (5) drops back to pass, while getting blocking help from junior running back Jaheim Covington (33) and an offensive lineman, in the first half of last week’s 31-0 win at Pinecrest.
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.