ROCKINGHAM — In last season’s opener, Richmond roared out of the starting gates in a big way.
The Raiders scored 27 points in the first quarter, added another 20 in the next 12 minutes. By the end of the game, the team tied a school record for points scored with 70. In addition, it was the first time in the Raiders’ 40-year history, three running backs had rushed for more than 100 yards in a single game.
Richmond coach Paul Hoggard cautions his players and fans to not expect another record-setting performance this go-around.
“I have been impressed with their defense,” Hoggard said. “They are big up front, their linebackers are quick to the ball and they have a lot of speed in the secondary. They have played pretty good defense in their scrimmages.”
Sun Valley coach Scott Stein agrees last season’s result can be tossed out the window.
“At the end of the day, we can’t go back and replay the game,” Stein said. “We can’t say we’re going to get revenge because it’s two different teams. They were pretty good last year and are better this year. We need to lineup and do what we do. We need to tackle better, pursue better and block better to prevent those things from happening again this year.”
Hoggard admitted following last year’s 70-28 victory the offense was very vanilla for quarterback Brent Flowers. He said the team lined up in one formation for the majority of the game and used three plays out of it in the first half. Hoggard expects more from his junior this season.
“We are going to be a little more multiple and we are going to put a little more pressure on him,” Hoggard said. “I’ll like to see us execute and not make a lot of mental mistakes. In our offense, one thing leads to another, which leads to another. I haven’t seen us execute yet in practice.
“It may be different in the game. It’s time to put the pressure on him and see if he can handle it.”
The Spartans will be looking to replace three key cogs in their offense from last season — wide receiver Jody Fuller, running back Jadarrius Williams and quarterback Ryan Smith. Kevin Saxton will take over for Smith under center, while Albert Funderburk and Juwan Paschal will split time in the backfield. Ty Thompson is expected to be Saxton’s main target at wide receiver.
“They want to be about 50-50 with the run and the pass,” Richmond defensive coordinator James Johnson said. “We want to force them into third-and-long which gives me choices instead of third-and-short which gives the offense options. Getting them into third-and-long is won on first and second down.”
Unlike a year ago, when the Raiders were looking to contain Fuller, now a member of the South Carolina football team, Johnson said his unit will not have one Spartan to focus its attention towards.
“They don’t have one guy,” Johnson said. “What we will have to do is try to get them out of their rhythm and get them ruffled on offense. We will have to keep our kids flying to the ball. We can’t really key on one thing.”
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org