Brian Brocato knew Burke County was going to be fast and he knew how explosive they could be first hand. Richmond Hill lost by 42 points to the Bears last year to pretty much the same team that made the trip to Richmond Hill this Friday.
The Wildcats managed to cut last year’s deficit to the Bears in half this time around; contained all the explosions to the first half, and walked away with their heads up in a 21-3 region 3-AAA (A) loss.
Richmond Hill dropped their record to (1-8, 0-4) while Burke (7-2, 4-0) solidified their spot at the top of the sub-region.
After taking the opening kick off Burke County wasted no time showing why they are at the top of the region. The Bears used an effective mix of the pass and run to keep the Wildcats on their heels.
Bear quarterback Tyler Hammett completed three passes the opening drive and the Bears had no problem using a trio of halfbacks to go the rest of the way with junior halfback Rodney Moye scoring first from the 11-yard line. The Bears would add another first period score to give the appearance that it was going to be a blow out.
On their next possession it would take only five plays before Hammett connected with Moye on a 39-yard pass to go up 14-0 with still over two minutes remaining in the quarter. The Wildcats were not doing their defense any favors as they went three and out twice with only one first down in the quarter.
The next Bear score seemed to wake up the struggling Cats.
The ensuing 62-yard drive and touchdown by Burke County’s lone senior in the backfield, Brandon Brown, put the Bears up by a commanding 21-0 score but the ensuing kickoff would breath life back in to the Wildcats hopes.
Whenever Xavier Owens touches the ball on punt returns and kickoff returns he always has a chance to break a long one, so teams have tried to kick away from him all season. This time the Bear kicker made a mistake and Owens made a 60-yard electrifying return to give his team an opportunity at the 20.
Darius Postell picked up 9 yards on the first down carry but the short drive stalled on the 6-yard line, where the Wildcats were forced to settle for a 21-yard Zach Alltop field goal. While not getting the much needed touchdown the Wildcats would go to the locker room with at least a little momentum.
It was senior night in Richmond Hill and they introduced the senior football players to the fans in attendance before the start of the game. The rest of the band, cheerleaders and other athletic teams seniors were honored at halftime. A special guest, Congressman Jack Kingston was introduced at halftime and drew the winning ticket for the customized golf cart that the Gridiron Association raffled off as a fund-raiser for the football team.
The Wildcats would need more than a fund-raiser to come back against the Bears but instead used a bend but don’t break defensive effort in the second half to keep the Bears from doing any more damage.
Defensive end Manny Garcia recovered a fumble on the Bears next series to give the ball back to Richmond Hill near mid field. Owens broke the Cats’ best run from scrimmage on the next play, a 30-yard carry to the Burke County 23. Richmond Hill was unable to capitalize on the break when a fumble in the backfield and a sack backed the Wildcats in to another punting situation.
The Bears showed all night that they have a dominating defense too.
Richmond Hill would manage to force the Bears to punt on their next possession and linebacker Danny Harmon would recover another Bear fumble as the defense stood up to hold Burke County off the rest of the way.
"We asked the kids to play hard, and they did - that is all we can ask," said Brocato on his teams effort.
They will need another strong effort when they travel to Hephzibah next week for the final game of the season. The Rebels were upset South Effingham this week with a 28-27 victory.