ROCKINGHAM — There will be a new face on the Raiders’ sideline during the varsity football game against South View on Friday.
8-year old Skyler Macedo is the Richmond Senior football team’s honorary member of week, as she will be on hand for Thursday’s walkthrough, Friday’s pre-game activities and — most importantly — the game that can get the Raiders back in the win column.
Macedo currently battles a neurological disorder called Chiari Malformation, which puts pressure on both the brain and the spine and disrupts the flow of cerebrospinal fluid.
“We’re excited to have her out there and hopefully bring some awareness to her. It also teaches our guys that helping other is what life is all about,” coach Mike Castellano said. “I told our guys the other day, this girl has gone through all of this and she’s only 8-years old. What’s your excuse in life?”
Macedo, along with Raider Nation, will be cheering Richmond on as it faces a South View team that has a clear size advantage on its offensive line.
One of the Tigers’ offensive linemen, Mike Edwards, is listed at 6-feet, 7-inches and 327 pounds. Another one, Jaylian Galloway, is listed at 6-feet, 6-inches and 270 pounds.
Johnathan Gilmore, South View’s starting tight end, stands 6-feet, 4-inches tall and weighs 250 pounds.
“That’s obviously not something we have here in our program — a ton of size. That’s going to be different for us to deal with and handle,” Castellano said. “We have to be sound and make sure we lineup properly. We might not be the biggest team out there, but we can play with and give a ton of effort.
“And hopefully when we get to the football, we’ll be able to tackle soundly,” he continued. “That’s something we didn’t do a great job of last week — alignment and tackling. We’ve got to clean that up.”
Although last week’s game at Butler ended in a loss for the Raiders, Castellano understands it’s not the end of the world. The second-year coach has moved on from it and hopes his team has done the same.
“We talked about it the other day, football — and life — isn’t an Xbox. You can’t hit reset,” he said. “When something is done, it’s done. You have to move on. We’re focused on what we do and not what happened, because you can’t go backwards — win or lose.”
After hitting the road in three of the first four weeks, Richmond (3-1) will enjoy a game in front of the home crowd Friday night — the first of a three-game home stretch.
Quarterback Leon Zeigler and running back Damontre Bennett look to have another strong performance for the Raiders. This season, Zeigler has thrown for 779 yards and 13 touchdowns. Bennett averages 12.3 yards a carry and has found the end zone six times.
“They both have improved every week,” Castellano said of Zeigler and Bennett. “It’s exciting to hear the coaches talk about how much they’re improving and what they’re getting better at — and it’s fun to see it at practice every day. I think they’re both developing into leadership roles that’ll eventually help us down the road.”
Bennett and Zeigler’s leadership has helped bring along some of the young guys, particularly Bobby Terry, Jake Ransom and Malik Stanback — all sophomores.
Terry has four receiving touchdowns in the last two games, Stanback caught a 59-yard pass for a score last week at Butler and Ransom has been doing the dirty work on the offensive line.
“We’ve got three sophomores right there that are getting better and contributing every week that are very talented young men,” Castellano said. “We’ve said it all summer long, it doesn’t matter what grade you’re in — the best player plays. And you see young men right there, winning playing time in starting spots as sophomores.”
As far as Friday goes, Castellano and his coaching staff want to see “a team that doesn’t ride a rollercoaster the entire game.” Getting better and maintaining their level of play will be key for the Raiders in the non-conference matchup.
“We just want to see consistency and improvement,” he explained. “Not have one great possession and then two bad possessions. Not dominate on special teams for a half and then can’t cover a kickoff or execute a punt officially.”
Friday’s game kicks off at 7:30 p.m.
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Richmond Senior’s Leon Zeigler hands it off to Damontre Bennett during Week 1. The Raiders will look to record their fourth win of the season when it faces South View at home Friday.