Richmond Hill High School will try to snap a two-game losing streak and move closer to the program’s first state playoff berth since 1996 when the Wildcats play host to Bradwell Institute on Friday night at Wildcats Stadium.
The Wildcats (5-2, 2-2) are coming off a heartbreaking 27-24 loss to No,. 10-rankedWareCountyin a 3-AAAAA game. Bradwell (1-6, 1-3) was beaten handily by region foeGlynnAcademylast week.
But you can throw records out the window, RHHS coach Lyman Guy said.
“Bradwell to me is like every other team in this region in that they have athletes and they can beat you,” he said. “They also have a veteran head football coach (Jim Walsh Jr.) who knows what he’s doing. It‘s like coach (Rick) Tomberlin at Effingham or (Ed) Dudley at Ware or coach (Rob) Ridings at Glynn and everybody else we‘ve been in a battle with. They have veteran coaching staffs and you have to factor that in to your preparations.”
Guy said the Tigers are diverse offensively and sound defensively.
“We’re going to have to play our best to win,” he said. “But again, it’s the same situation for us it has been since day one.Richmond Hillhas got to play a good game in order forRichmond Hillto be successful. No matter who it is we play, that’s all we have control over.”
Led by a handful of seniors, the Wildcats are close to being 7-0 instead of 5-2. Effingham pulled out a last minute 16-14 win two weeks ago, thenWareCountyscored with less than a minute left and hung on for the 27-24 win.
“I thought in the Ware loss we had a couple of opportunities to seal the game and pull away,” Guy said. “In the Effingham game, everything that could have gone wrong went wrong. But when you look at where we have come from as a program over the past few years, I think they both came out knowing they were in a good football game against a pretty good football team.”
Guy, who called the Ware contest was a moral victory for his team, said one moment from that game stood out. After a Wildcat TD pass was ruled incomplete because the player was ruled out of bounds in the back of the end zone, a Gator defender tried to strip the ball from the defender.
“Our kid refused to let the ball go,” Guy said. “He didn’t retaliate, he didn’t do anything that would reflect badly on the program, but he refused to give up the ball. To me that means a lot. He handled it the right way. He refused to quit. To me that reflected the entire team.”
Guy said he wants his team to play with character and within the rules but not back down.
“I even saw a little bit of swagger from our guys and that’s OK too,” he said.
Senior quarterback Dominique Allen leads the Wildcats offensively, while senior defensive end Zach Stegner anchors the defense.
Senior running back David Katzman isRichmond Hill's top rusher with 711 yards and eight touchdowns on 95 carries. Allen has rushed for 618 yards and eight TDs on 104 carries. He's also thrown for three TDs. Junior quarterback and wide receiver Nick Fitzgerald has been an all-purpose threat – he’s rushed for 212 yards and four TDs on 21 carries, caught 12 passes for 156 yards and two more scores and completed 1-of-2 passes for a 34-yard TD.
Senior Hank Ferendo has three catches for 60 yards and a TD.
On the defensive side of the ball, Stegner has 30 solo tackles and two fumble recovers for the Wildcats while linebacker Zhane Thomas and defensive tackle Jonathan Thomas both have 25 solo tackles.
Notes: Injuries have hit the Wildcats hard. Senior offensive lineman Talib Young, a team leader, broke his leg in the Effingham game but hopes to be back in time for the playoffs, Guy said. Cameron Myers and Daniel Wilder have also been banged up. Sophomores Caleb Branham and Jon Zellner are among the offensive linemen getting playing time in their absence.
Defensive backs Quanzell Blow, T.K. Grisby and linebacker Nathan Soliata have missed the past two games as well, Guy said.
“We’ve had a bunch of injuries but at the same time we’ve got a little depth, so we have some guys who have been able to step in.”
And though there are three games away, the Wildcats have a shot at the No. 3 seed from Region 3-AAAAA, which would mean a first-round road trip -- possibly to face state powerWarner Robins.
The term “state power” is one Guy would like to see applied toRichmond Hillat some point.
“That’s our goal,” he said. “Our intentions are to develop this program to where it‘s good enough to be a state power.”
It starts by making the playoffs, he said, then getting past the first round.. “We have three more regular season games that can make or break us, but our intentions are to get there, and if we get there, we’ll have an opportunity to establish our reputation statewide. But we’ve got to get there first.”