But real students of the county’s gridiron history know that the Raiders date back to just 1972, when the county’s high schools were consolidated to form Richmond Senior High School.
Older residents fondly remember another highly successful team: The Rockingham Rockets.
That team’s most well-known coach, Bill Eutsler, 93, is long-since retired and now lives in rural Cheraw, S.C. Eutsler is a member of the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.
But he is still fondly remembered by many in the county where he helped establish a winning football tradition that endures to this day.
Eutsler is perhaps best remembered by his former players - many of which keep in touch, visiting him regularly and getting together at least twice a year at Eutsler’s residence for food, fellowship - and, of course, football stories, which seem to get better with age.
Several of those former players - Keith Mclester, Bill Rohleder and Charlie Yow - stopped by their old coach’s residence earlier this week for just such a visit.
And the three men - in conjunction with their teammates, and another former Rocket - Wingate University President Jerry McGee - have put together something they hope will create a lasting legacy honoring the legendary former Rocket mentor.
So far, according to Mclester, about $65,000 has been raised for the scholarship endowment fund, which will help fund a Wingate education for a graduating senior from Richmond County.
While Eutsler’s former players are excited about the upcoming scholarship, they prize their time spent with their beloved coach and take advantage of every opportunity to keep in touch.
Mclester, who played at Rockingham for Eutsler in the early 1960s, said Eutsler was ahead of his time in many areas of the game.
“He had the games filmed, which wasn’t really done that much in those days, and we had an extended football camp for about two weeks,” McLester recalled with a smile.
“We called it “Hell Week.”
But more than the Xs and Os of the game of football, Mclester said, was the effect Eutsler left on the young men who played for him over the years.
“Probably more than 1,000 young men played for him over the years,” Mclester said.
Rohleder said Eutsler was tough but fair.
“Coach Eutsler didn’t play favorites,” Rohleder said. “He treated us all the same.”
For Eutsler’s part, his longetivity - and the success he enjoyed over the years - can be traced to a couple of key ideas.
“First, you need a supportive administration,” Eutsler said. “”You also need good assistant coaches, and you have to have not only good players, but good kids.”
“I was lucky enough to have all three,” Eutsler said with a big smile.
Back to that success: Eutsler was 225-74-4 on the Rockingham High Gridiron - which, back in the day, was located where Browder Park is now. His teams won 13 conference titles, six Eastern state titles and four state championships.
Eutsler also coached basketball from 1947-52, going 104-24 over that time. There were seven conference crowns and one regional title on the hardwood during his tenure.
And Eutsler also coached baseball from 1947-59, winning four conference titles and a state championship during that time.
For more information on the scholarship fund, contact Wingate University at 704-233-8319 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact sports editor David Vantress at 997-3111, ext. 14 or by email at email@example.com.