ROCKINGHAM — The Richmond football defense has been forced to make an audible with its defensive formations for the current live week in preparation for the Powerade 7-on-7 Invitational this weekend.
For the event that will bring 33 teams from 19 states playing in Matthews, the Raiders will lose a linebacker from their typical 3-4 defensive front to compete in the tournament with three linebackers.
Tuesday’s home scrimmages against St. Pauls, Phillip O Berry Academy and Chesterfield was the Raiders’ first chance to work out the kinks against an opponent not wearing green and gold.
“We were trying to rep some stuff we are going to have to do then and take an extra linebacker out,” Richmond coach Bryan Till said. “That’s what we were working on as much today as to how we communicate in that defensive change.”
Through early stumbles, Till saw his linebacking group adjust in the coverage changes by picking up interior receivers and backs coming out of the backfield.
“I think they adjusted well. To adjust mentally like that, you really have to understand the game quite a bit,” Till said. “There’s a lot of veteran guys in our back seven. You saw us get a little frustrated once, but that’s when we didn’t communicate so that’s where we’ve got to be better.”
The Raiders’ secondary also closed out well to snag three interceptions in the three scrimmages. Till credited the experience of Xavion Lindsey and Dereck Barringer in the back end of the defense to carry the unit through the offseason.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Raiders’ moved the ball vertically with ease against Berry and Chesterfield, with junior quarterback Caleb Hood tossing seven touchdowns in the event.
“For our offensive guys, it was about getting back in rhythym,” Till said.
Recievers Dalton Stroman and Jakolbie Bladwin showed speed to burn the opposing secondaries, leading to scores over the top, but it was the growth of the slot receivers Kellen Hood and Tremel Jones that Till noted after the 7-on-7s.
“Those guys have really had a great offseason here and those guys are starting to turn our heads with how they get open and run routes,” Till said.
The Raiders will open the Powerade 7-on-7 Invitational in Matthews at 9 a.m. on Friday at the Matthews Sportsplex. The Raiders will play seven games.
“There’s going to be a lot of big time talent and we are going to be ready to compete,” Till said.
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.