ROCKINGHAM — Greensboro Dudley, the No. 1-ranked high school football team in the state, is coming to town this Friday.
The Panthers currently boast a 5-0 record and will look to senior quarterback Hendon Hooker — a Virginia Tech commit — to lead the charge. On the season, Hooker has thrown for 885 yards and 10 touchdowns, while also running for 336 yards and seven touchdowns — a set of passing and running skills Richmond Senior hasn’t seen from an opposing quarterback this season.
“Hooker’s a big kid who loves contact, loves running the ball and throws a great ball as well. He does a great job with reading coverages and decision making,” coach Mike Castellano explained. “We played him last year and learned a lot about his toughness and his overall ability — and he’s only gotten better.
“We have to make sure that we’re fitted up properly on defense to have a chance at stopping him, because he’s dangerous,” Castellano continued. “If he’s not the best quarterback in the state, he’s one of the best two.”
The defense that will be tasked with stopping Hooker and the Dudley offense will look to duplicate — to an extent — the success it had during last week’s victory, as the Raiders held South View scoreless in Week 5.
Castellano understands that going up against a “big, physical, fast football team that’s very well-coached” is not an easy task, but he believes his team is ready for the challenge. The second-year coach wants to see a defensive unit that is sound, aligned properly and reading the run-pass keys they’ve worked on in practice.
“I think defensively, our coaches — Coach Swinney, Coach Jacobs, Coach Trump and Coach Gould — are doing a great job of really showing the guys on film and in position meetings of what to look at. Now, we just have to translate it over,” Castellano added.
Offensively, both teams know how to put up points on the scoreboard.
Richmond (4-1) is averaging 40.8 points a game entering Friday’s contest, with its largest scoring output being the 62-point performance at Douglas Byrd earlier this month.
Dudley, who averages 41 points per game, racked up a season-high 58 points against Ragsdale in Week 2.
“Last year, Coach Burdeau did a great job of dictating the tempo of the game,” Castellano said. “Realizing what kind of game it was going to be due to the weather, the way they were playing and what we were able to do on defense.”
It was a rainy day when these two teams faced off in Greensboro last season.
In that game, Richmond saw Leon Zeigler complete 11 of his 18 passes for two touchdowns, Quientel Goodwin rush for 140 yards and Jaelin Beugre grab a late-game interception — which sealed the deal and helped the Raiders escape with a 14-12 win.
“This year, he’s got a great game plan — he always does,” Castellano said. “And one thing about Coach Burdeau, it’s fun watching the game and seeing how he evolves what he’s doing to what the defense is trying to do that week.
“Our offense has a chance to do some great things, as their responsibility is to score points,” he added. “And it’s our responsibility as a defense to not get into a shootout.”
With this being the last non-conference matchup of the season, the Raiders look to put on a good showing and enter conference play with five wins under their belt.
“This will be the best team we play all year. There’s a reason they’re ranked first in the state,” Castellano said. “It’ll be a good measuring stick to see where we’re at this week and hopefully that can carry over to later on in the season for us. But our first priority, is going out there and competing Friday night.”
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Richmond Senior’s Leon Zeigler will be a key factor in the Raiders’ matchup against Greensboro Dudley — the No. 1 team in the state. Last year at Dudley, Zeigler threw for more than 100 yards and two scores in Richmond’s 14-12 victory.