April 2, 2018
The Richmond Roughriders sign new starting QB
Due to prior commitments, QB Bryan Randall will be unavailable for at least the next two weeks. As a result, the Richmond Roughriders have signed former Cleveland Gladiator star Arvell Nelson. In two years with Cleveland, Nelson passed for 6509 yards, and 131 TD’s against just 24 Int’s. According to Roughriders owner Gregg Fornario, “Bryan Randall had prior commitments preventing him from continuing with the team for at least a couple of weeks. We have AFL/NFL standards, so we aren’t going to sign a QB to just get us through these games, we wanted someone who can come in and dominate. We believe Arvell Nelson can do that.” The problem is Nelson himself may only be available for a couple of weeks, which means after the Florida Tarpons game in Florida on April 14 the Riders will find themselves right back in the same situation they are in prior to this signing. Fornario said, “I don't care if we have to use 10 QBs we are going to do what we have to do to win the championship so they’re going to be players who can come in and win.” As a high-quality QB, and a local guy, it is possible Randall will be back later in the year.
In other Richmond Roughrider news, the team is announcing the departure of WR Daniel Lee. While with Richmond, Lee became a fan favorite. Mitigating the effect of Lee’s departure is the activating of WR Jeremy Gallon. The 5’7”, 185 lb player set many records while thrilling the University of Michigan's fans. Drafted by the New England Patriots in 2014, Gallon spent much of the season on the Oakland Raiders practice squad. While he’s been around for a few years, he has yet to make his mark in arena football. If he can bring it in Richmond the way he did in The Big House, the Riders should have no problem at Wide Receiver this season. Arena Football Insider is also reporting another important signing. The team is announcing the addition of Offensive Lineman David Griffin Jr. Griffin Jr., spent last season with the Columbus Lions in the NAL helping anchor a line which led the team to the brink of the championship. Gregg Fornario said, “With the addition of these three players, the fans are going to see a completely new, and we think better, Richmond Roughriders team”
Roughriders Defeat Energy in Home Opener
The Richmond Roughriders opened their second season with a convincing 52-38 victory over the Carolina Energy. The Energy, led by QB David Washington, took the lead near the end of the first half, silencing the crowd. Washington, a Raleigh NC native, played his college ball in Norfolk, Virginia at Old Dominion University, added a TD in the 2nd half on a broken play scramble up the middle. For the Riders, this was QB Bryan Randall’s first game with the team. He came in late to replace Rakeem Cato who’d been released earlier in the week. With just a short time to practice to get up to speed on Coach Derek Stoudt’s offense, the veteran QB had difficulties in the early going hitting the deeper routes. In the second half the team adjusted their play calling and Randall, noticeably more comfortable, began hitting his receivers and consistently moving the ball. After the game Coach Stoudt said “At halftime we changed everything and began working shorter routes to help the QB get the ball out a little faster. In the second half we did a better job taking what they were giving us and it helped Bryan (Randall) shake off the rust.” You could see Randall gaining confidence in his team with each successive completion and after being down four at the half, the team finished the game up 14. The Riders were helped along by the stellar play of their defense, as well as the Carolina kicker missing all 6 of his extra point attempts. In the first series in the first half the Energy were forced to double-team DE Greg Hardy and that left one on ones for 2017 APF Defensive Player of the Year, Keontae Hollis, to apply steady pressure on Washington. Hollis finished with 2 sacks and many pressures. Noticeably limping on his left leg, Hardy did not play the second series and the Energy drove the ball down the field and scored. After he returned, the Energy were able to handle him mostly one on one which helped them to move the ball, if not easily, then consistently, which allowed them to stay in the game. In the 4th quarter, Hardy regained his Dallas Cowboys form and the Roughriders D became the dominant force pre-season forecasts predicted. All in all the Riders defensive line controlled the line of scrimmage and pressured Washington into errant passes many of which were dropped, defended, or intercepted. Aside from Hardy and Hollis, the Richmond DB’s were solid, and sometimes spectacular, all night, and on offense WR Rashaad Carter stood out with four TD’s.
Richmond Roughriders Beat the High Country Grizzlies 34-19
By Nathan Ham
Gerron Bryant scored a pair of touchdowns for the High Country Grizzlies, but it wasn’t enough as the Richmond Roughriders rode home with a 34-19 victory on Saturday night.
Former Marshall University standout quarterback Rakeem Cato accounted for all five touchdowns for the Roughriders while their defense held the Grizzlies to just 139 yards of total offense.
Richmond scored first on a 48-yard strike from Cato to Rashaad Carter at the 8:01 mark of the first quarter. The Grizzlies were able to block the extra point to make the score 6-0.
In the second quarter, Cato found Daniel Lee for a 12-yard touchdown pass and a 13-0 lead with 5:03 until the halftime break.
The Grizzlies got on the board with a 17-yard TD pass from Darren Daniel to Bryant.
It took the Roughriders just eight seconds to answer back with a 25-yard touchdown toss from Cato to Carter. Richmond held a 20-7 lead at the half.
The third quarter started with a boom for Richmond. Cato hooked up with Carter for the third time, this one a 35-yard pass to extend the lead to 27-7.
The Grizzlies answered back with a one-yard touchdown run by Zachariah Taylor to trim the deficit to 14 points at 27-13.
With 47 seconds left in the third quarter, Cato scored his fifth and final touchdown, this time doing it with his legs on a six-yard run. Richmond took a comfortable 34-13 lead into the fourth quarter.
The only points scored in the final period came off of Bryant’s second TD of the night, this one a two-yard run with 3:21 left to play.
Cato finished the game completing 11-of-23 passes for 170 yards and four touchdowns. Daniel led the Grizzlies with 19 completions on 36 attempts for 139 yards and a touchdown.
Carter led all players with seven catches for 133 yards and three touchdowns.
Richmond Roughriders Release QB Rakeem Cato, Sign Bryan Randall
Rakeem Cato, the highly regarded QB from Marshall University and the CFL Montreal Alouettes, has been released by the Roughriders. Despite putting up solid numbers opening weekend on the road against the High Country Grizzlies his locker room presence had proven to be too disruptive for the team. Owner Gregg Fornario said, “Cato is a terrific QB and a great competitor, but he wasn’t seeing eye to eye with the coaching staff, so we felt it was best for the team if we went in a different direction.” That new direction is QB Bryan Randall. A local guy, Randall lives in Williamsburg, Va. and played his college ball at Virginia Tech. Out of college, he spent time in the NFL with Atlanta, Tampa Bay, and Pittsburgh. He saw some action with the CFL Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 2008 and 2009 before returning home to play for the Richmond Revolution in the IFL. In 2010, Randall led the Revs to a 13-1 record while throwing for more than 2000 yards and 58 TD’s, adding another dozen on the ground. After the season, he was awarded the league MVP. Since then he has made stops in the AFL, mostly as a backup, and last year he had a strong season in China playing for the Qingdao Clippers leading them to the CAFL China Bowl. According to Roughriders Superfan, Matt Neely, “Randall is the real deal.”