ROCKINGHAM — It has been a long time since Richmond Senior hasn’t opened the playoffs in Raider Stadium.
It’s been so long, none of the current Raiders were even born.
The last time Richmond was on the road for the first round of the postseason was 1992, when it traveled to Greenville to take on J.H. Rose. The Ramparts won the game 21-12 as the Raiders ended their season with an 8-3 mark.
This year’s team hopes for a better outing when it travels to Mooresville tonight at take on Lake Norman in the opening round of the state 4AA playoffs.
If the Raiders are to pull off the minor upset, the defense will have to find a way to stop quarterback Josh Ladowski. The junior, who has verbally committed to play baseball at North Carolina, has accounted for 56 touchdowns and more than 4,850 yards of total offense.
Lake Norman coach Rob McNeely said the comparisons to Texas A&M quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel are very appropriate.
“That is probably about as close as you can get,” McNeely said. “He’s a competitor, he plays and practices hard.”
Richmond defensive coordinator Mark Arthur believes to have his unit go against a player like Ladowski will be a good opportunity to show how much they have improved.
“It’s going to be a great challenge,” Arthur said. “I think it will motivate the guys going against a kid with those kind of statistics. He makes a lot of plays for them.”
Because Ladowski is just as capable as making a big play with his arm or his feet puts Arthur in a dilemma trying to scheme to stop him.
“We will have to try to keep him contained,” Arthur said. “He’s will make some plays. We will have to try to limit them. We have to mix up the defense. We can’t put a lot of pressure on him hoping to stop him from running and we can’t just sit back because the secondary can’t hold up that long.”
Arthur added he believes playing Jaylend Ratiffe last week will benefit the defense heading into the Lake Norman matchup.
“Against Scotland we knew we had to stop the quarterback,” Arthur said. “They are different type of players, but the offenses still revolve around them.”
On the other side of the ball, Richmond coach Paul Hoggard has to figure out who will start at quarterback. After inserting Montek Johnson to start for the injured Brent Flowers against Lumberton and Scotland, as well as the majority of the Pinecrest contest, Hoggard had a position battle between junior varsity quarterback Tyler Calhoun and ninth-grade QB Luke Hoggard this week.
“It’s going to be a game-time decision and it is going to be the one that gives us the best option to win,” Paul Hoggard said. “They’ve handled it pretty well this week. We have been able to do the things we want to do. Neither has been a deer in the headlights.”
— 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.