ROCKINGHAM — Being able to use all four days of practice this week is something head coach Bryan Till and the Richmond football team are appreciating a little more than usual as they prepare for Friday night’s game at Lumberton.
The Raiders (6-1, 3-0 SAC) weren’t too much affected by the threat of Hurricane Michael, and in turn, didn’t have to reschedule their matchup with Hoke County last week — which they dominated from start to finish.
The Pirates (1-6, 0-3 SAC), on the other hand, were victims of the storm’s threat and were forced to postpone their game against Pinecrest — which was played this past Monday. Now they’ll have to play twice in one week.
“I think it would have to be,” Till said when asked if that situation at hand is an advantage for the Raiders. “That’s not a knock on them in any way. I just can’t imagine, playing two games in a five-day span, that they’re as fresh as we are.”
A five-game win streak, an undefeated record in conference play, and the fact that they’re coming off an explosive 53-0 win over Hoke on Homecoming have the Raiders feeling confident a little more than halfway through the regular season.
“You want them to look at last week, and how they dealt with everything and say, ‘Hey, that’s what we need to do every week,’” Till added. “If they as young men can learn (and hold onto) that … then now you’ve got something.”
Scoring in the first few minutes of games has been one of Richmond’s strong suits this year.
On the third play of the game in the season opener versus Reagan, junior running back Jaheim Covington scored his first rushing touchdown of the season on a 14-yard run up the middle. Against Wake Forest in Week 2, senior receiver Bobby Terry caught a 66-yard touchdown pass — also on the third play of the opening drive — to get things going.
Last week against Hoke, once again on the third play of the team’s first offensive possession, senior wideout Jordyn Wall hauled in a screen pass in the flat, got a pair of huge blocks, and took the ball 45 yards to the house.
The Raiders will be looking to do something similar, and then stay in attack mode, when they travel to Lumberton on Friday.
“You see guys get off to a fast start in a lot of places, especially on Saturdays, and then they start to relax. Now all of sudden, they’re reeling because they’ve gotten counterpunched and don’t know how to get back into that mode of attacking,” Till said. “So I think the big thing is to always stay on the attack, regardless of what the outcome is (on the early plays).”
Lumberton will be looking to contain the Raiders and put up points of their own with a number of “very good athletes” who can “keep the ball game close if they’re able to make plays” — most notably senior quarterback Braylan Grice.
Grice is a 6-foot-1, 210-pound playcaller who carries the bulk of the load for the Pirates’ offense, as he led the Pirates in passing yards, passing touchdowns, rushing yards and rushing touchdowns a season ago. The senior finished with 162 passing yards and two scores, and a team-high 86 rushing yards, in the team’s 26-14 loss to Pinecrest to start the week.
“His athleticism and his ability to make plays out of nothing is a big part it,” Till said of what Lumberton brings to the field. “He’s not like most quarterbacks. … He brings an X-factor to the table that you really can’t practice for.”
Grice has recently been playing on the defensive side of the ball — taking snaps at safety — for the Pirates, becoming just one of the handful of players they have who have shown versatility this season. Senior Kwasheek Breeden is a 6-foot-5 wide receiver who also lines up at cornerback, senior wideout Ahmir Singletary plays some at safety and linebacker, and junior C.J. McCray is a big-bodied athlete who catches passes as a tight end and make plays as a defensive end or linebacker.
“Wearing those guys out and being physical on both sides of the ball is going to be huge,” Till said. “Not just tackling, but we have to be physical with our blocks and our special teams. Making it that type of ball game is going to be important.”
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.