ROCKINGHAM — The 2022 3A/4A All-Sandhills Athletic Conference football team was released over the weekend, with eight Richmond Raiders picked into the postseason.
Several of the SAC teams made it to the second round of the state playoffs, and the 50-player team was released after Lee County’s exit from the 3A bracket on Saturday.
Richmond had four offensive players and four defensive players selected, and half the Raiders were named to their second All-SAC team. Those players were seniors Tyson Holloway, Jeffery Linton and Taye Spencer, and junior Jacoby Martin.
For the first time, seniors Emoni McBride and Messiah Shaw received the recognition, along with sophomores Bobby Little and Joe Parsons.
Conference regular-season champion Pinecrest High School had 12 players called up, while Lee County and Scotland matched Richmond’s eight selections.
Hoke County received six selections and both Southern Lee and Union Pines had four players on the team.
“It’s great that the other coaches at the conference are recognizing what these guys are capable of and appreciating what they’ve brought to the table this season,” head coach Bryan Till said. “With the voting situation, there are also some other people who might have made it, but it will be difficult.
“We’ve built this season around our returning players, and especially those (four) who made it all-conference for the second time. It’s no surprise to us,” he continued. “And for the new guys, it speaks to the scale of the growth from non-conference to conference games.
“You look at Emoni’s development and the decision making through our offensive coaching that has helped him and it was an emotional thing when Bobby was announced. It’s great to know that the other coaches respected what he did and what numbers he persevered with in his situation with incredible toughness.”
Offensive players: Holloway, Linton, McBride and Spencer
One of two selected quarterbacks, McBride finished his first year as Richmond’s starter with 1,265 passing yards, 91 of 194 passing for 115.0 yards per game, and was the SAC’s leader with 14 passing touchdowns.
McBride, also a double threat, added 274 rushing yards on 70 attempts for 5 touchdowns, putting him in the top three quarterbacks in the conference. He twice threw a career-high 3 passing scores (Lee County, Scotland), completed a career-high 14 passes for 169 yards against Union Pines, and split his five rushing scores across five different games.
Spencer proved to be another high-profile offensive weapon for the Raiders, combining his speed and power to crown his career with his second pick in as many seasons. He rushed for 1,282 yards on 210 carries (both third in the SAC) and added 12 rushing scores (tied fifth).
In addition to offense, Spencer was also Richmond’s leading receiver this season with 21 catches for 337 yards and 4 touchdowns. His 202 rushing yards, 297 all-purpose yards, and 3 totals against South View were career-highs and he went for 100 all-purpose yards in eight games.
Holloway (right tackle) and Linton (left tackle) both served as frontline ball protectors in their senior seasons. Holloway booked the offensive line and also played the defensive line during a few games, and Linton played at center throughout the season.
The efforts of the two offensive linemen provided a physical front that helped buy Richmond time and space to average 24.5 points per game that fall. The Raiders have rushed for 2,069 yards (188.1 yards per game) and 1,295 passing yards (117.7 yards per game) this season.
Linton has verbally committed to Tusculum University and Holloway currently has several offers from schools across the state. Spencer also has an offer from St Andrews University.
Defensive Players: Little, Martin, Parsons and Shaw
Parsons earned his first career career after completing his second full varsity season and was Richmond’s lead tackler in 11 games that fall. At Linebacker, Parsons’ tie-on-ball resulted in 78 total tackles (57 solo, 21 assists), making him the fifth-best tackler in the SAC.
Parsons averaged 7.1 tackles per four quarters and had a career-high 15 tackles against Scotland in the regular-season final. His 3.0 quarterback sacks were second on the team and he blocked as a tiger back on offense, resulting in a catch for 5 yards.
A lone returning raider on the defensive side of the ball, Martin ended his sophomore collegiate season as an imposing defensive end threat. He was fourth on the team with 46 total tackles (20 solo, 26 assists) and added 2.0 sacks.
Martin, also a tiger back, averaged 4.2 tackles per game, had 6.0 total tackles for losses, and recorded a career-high 8 tackles against Lee County. He also intercepted a pass in the season opener and caught a touchdown against Union Pines.
Shaw emerged to fill one of several spots left open in secondary that season and proved to be Richmond’s biggest turnover machine with 4 interceptions, second in the SAC. Safely, Shaw collected picks against Mount Tabor, South View, Pinecrest and Lee County.
He was also second on the team in passes defended, repelling five passes in 11 games. Shaw added 28 total tackles (19 solo, 9 assists), recorded 3.0 TFL, and cemented the safety position when fellow senior Emerson Wall suffered a season-ending injury.
Little, whom Till called “one of the toughest people in the world,” met an unexpected end to his freshman season as a linebacker in week 10. Little, who was diagnosed with leukemia, played nine games for the Raiders and still ended a tie for third place in the SAC with 7.0 quarterback sacks, the most on the Raiders’ list.
With 47 total tackles (37 solo, 10 assists), Little was also first on the team with 14.0 tackles for loss. He had 3.0 TFL in three straight games, recorded a career-high 8 tackles against Union Pines, and had 3.0 sacks in a win over Hoke County on homecoming. Little was also responsible for two fumbles.
SAC’s Offensive Player of the Year went to Lee County running back BJ Brown, Pinecrest’s Jaiden Baptist was named Defensive Player of the Year and the Patriots’ Nick Eddins was named Coach of the Year.
Richmond finished the 2022 season with a 5–6 aggregate record and tied with Scotland for second in the SAC regular season rankings. The Raiders made the 4A East State Playoffs but were eliminated in the first round in Holly Springs with a 36-33 doubles loss in overtime.
Note: The statistics used in this article are from MaxPreps.