The look on the faces of the Richland Northeast players as they were exiting Harry Parone Stadium Friday night after a 39-3 setback to Spring Valley told the story.
It was the eighth-straight loss in the rivalry by a proud Cavaliers program that still leads the overall series 22-20.
Even though the recent results have taken their toll, the Richland Northeast community stands proud.
“For the folks that think there is no school pride at RNE, it’s still there,” first-year Richland Northeast coach William Richardson said. “The fire burns deep if you walk among our building and among the kids. It’s there, but we have to find a way to get it back out here and I think we’re moving in the right direction. It’s going to take some time, probably a lot longer than anybody wants it to.”
Richardson and his coaching staff don’t have to look far to see that type of pride. Spring Valley coach Robin Bacon is a former Cavaliers player who was also on the coaching staff when Richland Northeast won its only football state championship in 1993.
The fact RNE was the home team in a stadium that sits in the shadows of the Spring Valley school is one of the biggest obstacles facing the Cavaliers.
“Even though I coach here at Spring Valley, I want them to be successful,” Bacon said. “I pull for them every game but this one. They deserve a very nice stadium that their community can get out of their car and go to the stadium. This is a road game for them.”
Richland Northeast Athletics Director Gary Fulmer confirmed plans are in place for a new stadium on campus for the 2021 football season.
Until that time, Richardson is tasked with getting the Cavaliers out of the downturn of last having a winning season in 2012, when they went 6-5.
There is hope just by looking at the distant past.
RNE has that one state title while also finishing state runner-up in 2005 under coach Jay Frye. They also have made the state semifinals five times since 1980, the last coming in 2003.
That hasn’t been the trend recently. They were 1-9 a year ago and outscored 407-35. They were shut out in seven of 10 games. So far this season, the opposition holds a 163-29 advantage in the 0-4 start.
“It’s hard when you’re coming from where they’re coming from,” Richardson said. “They were resistant at first at some of the things we were implementing but they’re starting to see the changes. We have to make sure as staff we continue to improve on that.
“Old habits die hard, but they’re doing things we need them to do for the most part.”
Bacon faces his own set of challenges even though the Vikings have had some success in his five years leading the program. They were 7-4 last year and haven’t had a losing record under Bacon, with their best showing being a third-round playoff loss in 2017.
But Bacon only has 10 paid coaches on the staff for varsity, junior varsity and B teams and relies on as many volunteer assistants. That leaves Spring Valley facing a difficult challenge when playing other Class 5A programs that routinely have 16 to 24 paid coaches.
“We are in a severe disadvantage to most of the schools we play,” Bacon said. “We only get 10 coaches here at Spring Valley for three teams. I’m going against Irmo, Dutch Fork, Chapin who have 24 paid coaches on staff for their three teams. If we’re going to be competitive, we have to make the commitment to getting more coaches here to get us better.
“I’m very fortunate that I have 10 to 12 volunteer coaches that don’t get paid but come out here every day. I’ve mentioned to our principal, it’s something I mentioned to our superintendent. It’s something that has to get changed.”
The latest edition in this rivalry looked like it could be close for a quarter. Richland Northeast held a 3-0 lead after the first 12 minutes, but four first-half turnovers turned the tide.
Spring Valley sophomore quarterback DeQuandre Smith accounted for four second-quarter scores, including three in the final 2:18 of the half that turned a close game into a comfortable working margin.
Smith finished with 194 yards passing and four touchdowns to go along with 107 yards rushing and another score.
The Vikings defense limited the Cavaliers to 52 yards of total offense and didn’t allow the Cavaliers any scoring chances after RNE scored on its first possession when they recovered an onside kick to start the game.
“We have the guys and the ability is there; it’s just about changing the culture as far as work ethic and getting some consistency across the board in some of things we do,” Richardson said. “We’re moving in the right direction but it’s a process.”
HOW THEY SCORED
RNE – Selvin Recinos-Tejeda 39 FG 7:52
SV – Manny Moore 9 pass from DeQuandre Smith (kick blocked) 8:40
SV – Smith 2 run (PJ Ulengchong kick) 2:18
SV – Quanta Jackson 22 pass from Smith (Ulengchong kick) 0:50
SV – Moore 30 pass from Smith (Ulengchong kick) 0:06
SV – Safety, ball snapped out of end zone 7:27
SV – Nehemiah Bell 35 pass from Smith (Ulengchong kick) 9:00
SV – Ulengchong 29 FG 4:07
Rushing: SV: DeQuandre Smith 11-107, Braylin Ratcliff 4-(-3), Marquel Brown 8-35, Nehemiah Bell 1-(-5), Cam Smith 4-61, Jameer Toney 1-7 . RNE: Jalil Garvin-Mingo 10-41, Tysean Osby 15-21, TiAndre Jamerson 6-(-6), Terrance Purdie 1-(-7), Isaac Junious 3-6, Team 2-(-5).
Passing: SV: Smith 11-24-0-194, Smith 1-1-0-0. RNE: Osby 1-10-3 3 yards, Junious 1-2-0-(-1).
Receiving: SV: Quanta Jackson 1-22, Hunter Rogers 4-84, Manny Moore 2-39, Brown 3-14, Bell 1-35, Joseph Sims 1-8. RNE: Tyrik Grayson 1-3, Amere Cherry 1-(-1).