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'Cats looking to bounce back in televised game
99 stops Toot Johnson
Richmond Hills Quinton Lavant puts the clamps on Effingham Countys Toot Johnson last Friday in Springfield. - photo by Photo by Pat Donahue

The Richmond Hill Wildcats won’t have to wait until Friday to try to snap their three-game losing streak.

The local high-school-football spotlight will be on Wildcat Stadium at 7 tonight as Richmond Hill hosts Statesboro in a Region 3-AAAAA matchup.

The game will be televised live as WSAV’s game of the week.

“This game is a wonderful opportunity for our team to showcase their talent,” RHHS head coach Matt LeZotte said. “We have a ton of talent; we are just struggling to put it all together. When it comes together, we will have a great ball club.”

The Wildcats’ struggles were evident in Friday’s 30-0 loss at Effingham County. Effingham led by 21 points in the first quarter and 30 at halftime while holding Richmond Hill to only two first downs and 25 net yards on the night.

“We didn’t play our game,” LeZotte said. “We had guys lining up incorrectly offensively and defensively. We’ve just got to do a better job.”

Effingham quarterback Phillip Brown ran for two touchdowns and threw for another as the Rebels improved to 4-2 overall and 2-2 in Region 3-AAAAA. Richmond Hill slipped to 2-3 for the season and 1-3 in the region.

Running back Maurice Smith led RHHS with 59 yards on 12 carries. However, sacks and other negative-yardage plays resulted in minus-44 yards on the Wildcats’ other 11 rushing attempts.

Richmond Hill passed for 10 yards, with Brian Hughes connecting on 1 of 5 throws for 1 yard and Kasey Green completing his first pass attempt of the season for 9 yards. Smith caught the 1-yard completion and freshman L’Marqez Prather hauled in the 9-yarder.

Kywann Green led the defense with 10 tackles, including five solo stops, and Quinton Lavant made eight tackles and recovered a fumble caused by Tremaine Blackman. Tyler Milbradt also registered eight tackles, and Ruii Hernandez had a quarterback sack among his seven tackles.

The Wildcats’ inexperience has shown during their three-game losing streak. Of Richmond Hill’s 22 starters against Effingham, 15 were sophomores or freshmen.

“The positive is that, two years from now, they will be seniors and juniors with extensive game experience,” LeZotte said. “Ninety percent of our team has never played before at the varsity level. It’s growing pains, but we’re making a lot of mistakes that we don’t need to make and we have control over. We have to fix it.”

Statesboro is 1-4 overall and sits a half-game ahead of Richmond Hill in the region standings at 1-2. The Blue Devils fell 39-20 to No. 9 Coffee on Friday. Statesboro led 14-13 late in the second quarter, but Coffee went ahead 19-14 just before halftime and extended the lead to 32-14 early in the fourth quarter. The Trojans rolled up 476 yards, including 361 rushing.

The Statesboro offense showed a spark against Coffee after scoring seven points or fewer in three of its first four games. That included the Blue Devils’ lone win this season, 7-6 at Brunswick.

Meanwhile, the Wildcats again dug themselves into an early hole. A week after trailing Glynn Academy 35-0 in the first quarter, Richmond Hill fell behind 21-0 to Effingham in the opening period.

The Wildcats’ struggles over the past few weeks have LeZotte looking for players to step up as leaders on his team.

“We need guys to step up and change,” he said. “We have to change the way we’ve been doing things and change the way we approach it. We expect more things from these guys.”

Effingham Herald editor Patrick Donahue contributed to this story.

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