ROCKINGHAM — Seven games into the season and everyone believed for Richmond Senior to continue its winning ways, it needed to score 50 points a night because of a spotty defense.
Mark Arthur, Richmond’s defensive coordinator, was ready to file a missing persons report for all 11 of his players. He knew this wasn’t how he wanted them to play. They were allowing 30.3 points, 240.7 rushing yards and 197.2 yards in the air per game.
Not exactly intimidating.
After giving up big play after big play, the defense made one of its own against Hoke County and may have turned the tide.
It was fourth-and-3 at the Richmond 19 with just over three minutes remaining in the contest. The Bucks called timeout and elected decided to put the ball in the hands of quarterback Geoffrey Thompson.
The senior rolled to his left and sprinted towards the first-down marker. Waiting to greet him at the line of scrimmage were Richmond’s Tyree Jamison and Ray Ellerbe. The duo combined to stop Thompson for no gain, clinching the win for the Raiders.
Not only was it the big play it was lacking this fall, it was the line in the sand the Richmond defense needed.
“I told the guys it was time for us to step up,” Arthur said. “We had to relying on the offense early on. The thing is we had the effort the whole time.”
Since the Hoke victory, the defense is surrendering 183.3 yards on the ground and another 38 yards passing. If you include the four defensive touchdowns Scotland scored last week, Richmond is giving up 19 points a game. Take those 28 points off the board and the Raiders are allowing 12 points a game.
Now these are the type of numbers Arthur had in mind at the beginning of ther season. Arthur credits the turnaround to his players believing in what the coaches are teaching them in practice, the schemes for each game as well as a switch in the secondary.
“We have gotten better,” Arthur said. “They are commiting to the calls that are we are making, plus we are tackling better. We were struggling in the back of the defense so about halfway through the season we moved Jaelin (Beugre) up from the jayvees and put him in as the starter.”
Arthur also highlighted the improved play of Jamison.
“Last year he was still a safety but in a different system,” he said. “It’s taken him a while to get where he is now. He needed to be challenged and to be a more physical player. He wasn’t coming downhill and being physical like we needed him to be. I’m proud of the kid because he has stepped up to the challenge.”
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @scgolfer.