Richmond Hill Coach Matt LeZotte ran up and down the sideline during his Wildcats' 42-28 playoff loss Friday night at Lovejoy, encouraging his team.
He was trying to fire them up, trying to wring every possible score out of them. And while they ultimately fell short, LeZotte would later say the future is bright for the team.
"This is a young team," LeZotte said. "We have about 90 percent of our players coming back next year. They've had a taste of winning and will want more."
Lovejoy's first score came with only 24 ticks off the first quarter clock when they returned a Richmond Hill fumble for a touchdown. But the Wildcats answered when Maurice Smith scored with five minutes gone in the quarter to tie the game at 7-7 after Joseph Petrino's extra point split the uprights.
That score held until early in the second quarter when Lovejoy found the end zone on a running play. The extra point put Lovejoy up 14-7. The next score came when a Lovejoy receiver found the end zone with time in the second quarter ticking down to go up 21-7, and a Richmond Hill interception on their next possession set Lovejoy up for another quick score and a 28-7 lead.
Going with a new quarterback, Sheldon Lewis, Richmond Hill scored just before the end of the half on a 19-yard pass to Sam James. The extra point put the halftime score at 28-14, in favor of Lovejoy. The hosts scored early in the third to take a 35-14 lead, but Richmond Hill answered when Smith scored again on a 2-yard run with two minutes left in the third quarter. Petrino's extra point put the score at 35-21.
Lovejoy continued to apply pressure with another touchdown for a 42-21 advantage, but RH wasn't ready to give up. Lewis hit James on a 58-yard strike to close the gap to 42-28 when Petrino's extra was dead center. Lovejoy ended the scoring on a 48-yard TD run with eight minutes left in the game, but the PAT missed and the final stood at 48-28.
"We want to make the playoffs again next year," LeZotte said. "This is just the beginning. It's a learning experience for everyone and the best part about it is they will learn from this. Our seniors should hold their heads. It's been a great year. We'll be back."
Lewis finished 6-for-20 for 122 yards and two TDs on the night, while James had five catches for 116 yards and two scores. Smith had 27 carries for 108 yards and two touchdowns. Nico DeCosta led the Wildcat defense with 12 tackles and an interception.
Richmond Hill ends the year at 6-4.