Richmond Hill High School head football coach Brian Brocato was the guest speaker at Thursday’s meeting of the Richmond Hill Rotary Club at the Richmond Hill Holiday Inn.
Brocato gave an update on where the team is at, having played three games thus far, and on the outlook for the rest of this season and beyond.
Brocato lamented on the 2-1 record thus far, which included brutal losses of 41-0 to Savannah Christian and 33-0 to Tattnall County. He also indicated it would be a tough obstacle for the Cats to defeat the highly-touted Washington County this Friday. Beyond that, though, he said the boys stand a fighting chance of gaining more victories for the remainder of this season and beyond.
Last year, WACO racked up a 55-0 victory on their way to the final four. Brocato jokingly said, "I hope there’s a lot more rain when they come down to play us in our swamp."
He also said he has not given up hope in gaining a victory against the region powerhouse on Friday.
"If games were played on paper, we wouldn’t need to show up," Brocato said. "Just because they’re bigger and faster than we are, we’ve proven we can overcome those obstacles – case in point would be our win over Bryan County. You don’t go to battle thinking you’re going to lose, and this next game will be no exception."
Added to the equation though is the fact that much of the Wildcat back field will not be in Friday’s game versus WACO due to injuries. "They weren’t in the Savannah Christian game either," Brocato said. "I have one with a hamstring, one’s got a knee problem and one has thigh bruising so deep he can barely stand on his leg. I need them for subregion when it counts, so I’m not going to cause them to get hurt worse."
In speaking about an upcoming away game versus South Effingham on Oct. 12, Brocato said, "South Effingham played Bryan County last week and beat them 17-8. We beat Bryan County 3-0. South Effingham is the same class as our league (3-AAA) and probably the best team in that class. If we beat them, the sky’s the limit. Even if we play them close and don’t beat them, the rest of the teams we can compete with."
Brocato boasted of the Wildcat radio show on 104.7 FM every Friday night and of the fact that the booster club has raised about $30,000 for the program, which has enabled them to purchase much-needed new equipment this season. He also spoke of a customized Wildcat golf cart that is being raffled off by the boosters for $5 a ticket. Tickets are available at each home game or anytime at Beef 'O' Brady’s restaurant.
"Despite the recent losses, we’ve got a lot of things going for us," Brocato said. "The kids are still excited and we’ve had great practices this week. Game attendance has been outstanding too."
"We’re capable of playing a good game," Brocato continued. "We just need to learn how to score. But we’re getting where we need to be, and the kids are buying into what we’re doing to where we’re seeing some improvement."
"The program is getting to where it needs to be," Brocato said. "It’s just a matter of getting more people involved and buying into what we’re trying to do in order to have a greater support system for the kids."
He said the long-term outlook for the program is extremely bright with a successful JV and middle school program on their heels. "It’s just a matter of getting from here to there," he said. "We have a very young team this year. We were all young once too and we all made mistakes, so I try to remember that."
Brocato added that the Cats lost their defensive coordinator to Bradwell this year and have changed offensive coordinators. This is only the second year for Brocato himself. He said the program, which garnered its first wins in several years for his initial year last season, and numerous more near-wins, is becoming very strong. "Little by little, we’re getting where we need to be. It’s baby steps because it’s not going to happen overnight."
He also said he is trying to coordinate with some of the rec department football coaches to instill some of the same training methods being practiced at RHHS in order to start getting players ready at the age of eight. The program has recently initiated a Junior Wildcat program which gets the young kids involved.
To close the meeting, Brocato said the program goes beyond a win-loss record at RHHS. "I’m not doing the job because I want to be some ‘Bobby Bowden person’ that you see on TV saying I’ve won gazillions of games. Yeah, we’d like to win a state championship. That’d be awesome, but that’s not why I’m here. I want these kids to get the best experience they can get to teach them the things that are more important that they need to know after football, which are discipline and respect and responsibility and accountability and being productive. We may not have won a lot of football games, but our players’ grade point average is in the nineties. If there’s nothing else that my kids learn before they leave me, they know that I care more about them than about the game or the statistics or the score."