If you have to play the game, you may as well have a game plan to win.
It is an old football adage and one that Richmond Hill head coach Brian Brocato believes in firmly.
Friday night he watched his team execute such a game plan for most of the night and throw a little bit of a scare into visiting Washington County Golden Hawks, but eventually succumbed to a big fourth quarter and a 41-19 non-region loss.
According to Brocato, the Washington County game and next week’s trip to Cross Creek is all about getting his team to improve and getting ready for sub-region play.
Richmond Hill has scored only three points in their first three games and, with two running backs sidelined with injury, needed other players to step up offensively.
Richmond Hill half backs Tyler Mitchell and Zach Denney answered the call on the Wildcats first scoring drive.
After Washington County opened the scoring with a Markeist Warthen to Antonio Danzy pass, Richmond Hill started their drive at their own 21. Quarterback Xavier Owens picked up the Wildcats first first down of the night with a quarterback sneak. On the next play from scrimmage, Mitchell found a seam on the right side and scooted 34 yards to the other end of the field. A play later, Denney scampered around the left side of the on a misdirection play and out raced the Golden Hawks defense to the end zone.
Zach Alltop’s extra point kick tied the score and woke up the heavily partisan crowd at Wildcat Field.
Washington County’s Keith Swint went to work in the second period chewing up most of a long drive for the Golden Hawks before scoring on a 7 yard run. The extra point kick made it 14-7 in favor of the visitors from Sandersville.
During the drive the Wildcat defense had seemingly sacked the Golden Hawks quarter back once and on several occasions had runners stopped at the line of scrimmage only to see them break loose and make good gains. Afterward, Brocato would speak of his team’s need for more improvement.
"Our Achilles Heel this year has been pass coverage, but we also had a lot of missed tackles - we are playing with some injuries, but still have to work on some things," he said.
Owens returned the ensuing kick off 50 yards to help set up the Wildcats in good shape at the Golden Haws 39. It would be the first of back to back long kickoff returns by Owens before the Golden Hawk coaching staff went to the squib kick strategy.
Richmond Hill was unable to capitalize and turned the ball over on a fake punt try from the 40 yard line. Two plays later Washington County showed off some more of their superior team speed when fullback Willie Marion broke loose on a 63-yard touchdown run. The Wildcats could have hung their heads at this point, but didn’t.
Owens shocked the Golden Hawk bench with another long kickoff return, then again on a fourth down and long pass to sophomore wide out Zach Young who streaked down the left side line between two defenders and caught the forty-two yard strike, in stride, for a Richmond Hill touchdown. The extra point kick failed, but the Wildcats were going to the locker room at halftime, against a team they lost to last season 55-0, down by only one score. That alone was worth the price of admission.
Richmond Hill took the opening second half kick off and staged a drive that ate up almost the entire third quarter and Owens first down run got the Wildcats as close as the 12. A series of penalties pushed the ball back and forth but finally Richmond Hill to tried a fourth down play and Washington County took over on downs. One more score at that point may have swung the momentum enough for Richmond Hill to pull off the upset, but instead Washington County came alive in the fourth quarter.
Three unanswered scores by Washington County broke the game open but Richmond Hill had one more crowd pleaser for their appreciative fans.
After lineman David Carter made a nice recovery of another squib kick, the Wildcats started their last scoring drive near midfield.
With time running out Owens lined up in the shotgun. He took the first snap, used his uncanny quickness to avoid several Washington County defenders and gave time for Zach Denney to find an open part of the field near the goal line. Owens spotted him just before crossing the line of scrimmage and sailed a perfect strike to the Richmond Hill sophomore for the game’s final score.