Monday, 09 August 2021 13:30

Richmond football voted No. 1 in pre-season coaches, media polls

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ROSports File Photo: Senior linebacker Jaleak Gates catches an interception during a 7-on-7 scrimmage earlier this summer. ROSports File Photo: Senior linebacker Jaleak Gates catches an interception during a 7-on-7 scrimmage earlier this summer. Kyle Pillar — Sports Editor.

RAEFORD — The newly formed 3A/4A Sandhills Athletic Conference held its inaugural football media day at Bayonet at Puppy Creek Golf Course on Sunday.

While the name of the SAC remains the same as the past four years, it will now be a split conference featuring four 3A schools and three 4A schools. Richmond, along with Hoke County and Pinecrest, are the 4A programs.

Familiar opponent Scotland High School, along with newcomers Lee County, Southern Lee and Union Pines, round out the SAC that will stay intact until the next realignment in four years.

Players and coaches from each of eight teams were present, making it the first media day since before the start of the 2019 season. 

Head coach Bryan Till and assistant head coach Greg Williams were in attendance, while seniors Kellan Hood (quarterback) and J.D. Lampley (defensive tackle) represented the Raiders.

The Raiders, who are coming off a shortened spring season that saw them go 4-1 overall and 3-0 in the previous SAC standings, were voted as the pre-season favorites to win the conference by both the coaches and the media.

In the 2018 pre-season polls, Richmond was named the coaches poll favorite, and swept both polls ahead of the 2019 campaign. 

Richmond has won the conference outright each of the last three seasons under Till’s direction, and finished second during his first season in 2017.

Receiving five first-place votes in the 2021 coaches poll, the Raiders were marked the clear favorite in the early going. Lee County and Southern Lee each received one first-place vote, while the other four schools received none.

The media, which cast 11 votes, selected Richmond eight times. Rival Scotland earned the other three first-place votes.

Till, who is entering his fifth season, and the Raiders are back to the grind this week with less than two weeks until kickoff. 

Richmond, which was eliminated in the second round of the 2020 4A East state playoffs in April, will begin its new campaign at Mount Tabor High School on Friday, Aug. 20. The Spartans are the defending 3AA state champions.

The Richmond Observer will continue its pre-season coverage of the football team, as well as all the other Richmond fall sports teams, this week.

Kyle Pillar

Nine-time N.C. Press Association award-winning sports editor. Indiana University of Pennsylvania communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

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