ROCKINGHAM — Both coaches like the other team’s athleticism and the ability to fly to the football.
But only one is going to be able to walk off the field at Doug Shaw Stadium with a smile on their face.
For the first time since the 2007 season, Richmond Senior and Marlboro County will battle on the gridiron. The Raiders are a perfect 13-0 against the Bulldogs, winning the last meeting 21-13 at Raider Stadium.
Even though the schools are separated by 26 miles, the teams will have to hit the road and head to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to renew the rivalry as part of the Derrick Law Firm Carolina Kickoff Clash presented by Sports Radio 100.3 The Team.
Richmond opened its season with a hard-fought 21-14 road victory over Rocky River, while it will be the first game of the year for Marlboro County.
“I watched them against Rocky River,” Marlboro coach Dean Boyd said. “I was very impressed. Those are two very good football teams.”
Boyd added he saw a lot of speed on both sides of the ball for Richmond, especially at running back. Miles Grant rushed seven times for 146 yards and two touchdowns. Grant added a 67-yard touchdown reception in the win.
Marlboro only returns one starter on defense and another five on the offensive side of the ball. Richmond coach Paul Hoggard said despite Marlboro returning just six starters, its roster is still full of athletes that can make big plays.
“It’s a fairly good representation of what they have been,” Hoggard said. “Of course we haven’t seen them or played them in a long time. It looks like they can run well, they have good-looking athletes.”
On offense, the Bulldogs have two players that Hoggard believes will make an impact on the game — quarterback London Johnson and wide receiver Tabari Hines.
Johnson passed for more than 3,000 yards and 31 touchdowns and rushed for another 1,000 yards and 11 scores last year. Hines, a transfer from South Florence, verbally committed to Wake Forest in June. Hines had 55 catches for 872 yards and 17 touchdowns with the Bruins.
“Their quarterback is really good player, has been a good player for them for a while,” Hoggard said. “Very athletic, throws the ball well. They’re a spread team that don’t mind throwing it around. Good receivers, one of them a Division I guy that transferred in from South Florence that’s a really good player.
“It doesn’t mean they can’t run the ball, they run the ball well also. You got to contain the QB, when pass protection breaks down or you cover the routes pretty good, he’s really a great runner and you have to try to contain him and keep him in the pocket. And play good coverage.”
J’Son Jacobs, Kijana Johnson, Dwayne Smith and Trey Woods will anchor the defense for Marlboro.
Hoggard said his coaching staff was only able to review game film on Marlboro’s scrimmage with Lexington (S.C.). Hoggard added the scrimmage was “like a real a real game.”
“It was just a scrimmage, but we got to see all the phases,” he said. “Now, you go back and say how much are they hiding or not showing or that kind of deal. Those are the things you don’t know, you don’t have multiple films to kind of see what they are doing. You have to make a game plan off what you see.”
In the victory over Rocky River, Richmond managed 349 yards of total offense and surrendered 317. Hoggard was pleased his team wasn’t flagged for “a lot of penalties,” but the team did have several delay of game and procedure calls.
“No big holding penalties which we’re pretty famous for getting I guess,” Hoggard said. “None of those, it wasn’t a penalty thing that stalled drives for us. We’re not very consistent right now up front, we got to get better up front.
“You got to pick up first downs, I think that was the biggest thing. We could get it to third and manageable and didn’t get the first downs. Didn’t keep the sticks moving and we punted a lot more than we normally do. No one certain thing, it was different breakdowns in different spots. And them doing a good real job defensively.”
Hoggard added since the staff isn’t sure how Marlboro will try to stop Richmond’s option attack, they will have to make adjustments on the fly.
“It goes back to how they are deciding to play us, are they trying to make us pitch the ball, trying to make us give the ball or let the quarterback run it,” Hoggard said. “It depends on how they are trying to play us. We won’t know that until it happens.”
Richmond defensive back Daryus Skinner came up with the play of the game against Rocky River when he tipped a possible game-tying touchdown pass away from Jaire Alexander late in the fourth quarter. Skinner also had one of two interceptions by the Raider defense.
“I thought we played hard, we stopped them when we had to stop them,” Hoggard said. “We caused some turnovers. Alignment problems we got to fix. We have to be disciplined with our alignment and how we line up and just knowing where to be and when to be there is stuff we got to work on.”
In other games involving Southeastern Conference schools: Scotland heads to Jack Britt, Pinecrest welcomes Douglas Byrd to John Williams Stadium, Lumberton will play host to Pine Forest, Hoke will take on Sun Valley in Raz Autry Stadium and Purnell Sweet will battle in-county foe Red Spring at home.
Reach sports editor Shawn Stinson at 910-817-2671 or on Twitter @scgolfer.