Richmond Hill’s young football team, led by a trio of veterans, is coming of age and it couldn’t come at a better time.
The Wildcats, coming off a 28-27 overtime win over previously unbeaten New Hampstead, will close out the non-region portion of their schedule Friday night when they go to Coffee County to take on a Trojans team ranked No. 7 in the state in Class 5A.
Seniors Ty Goldrick, Ravon Grant and Zion Gillard, with a big lift from an offensive line that features only one senior, all had big nights to lead the win over the Phoenix.
Goldrick threw for 195 yards as he completed 21 of 28 passes for three touchdowns. Grant had 13 catches for 125 yards. He also had 23 yards rushing and a 24-yard punt return.
Gillard had his third 100-yard plus game of the season as he racked up 122 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries. He also scored the game winning two-point conversion in overtime which was forced when sophomore Blake Williams kicked a 44-yard field goal as time expired.
Sophomore Caleb Easterling also had a big night on the ground as he had 109 yards on only six carries. It was the second straight explosive game for the offense which had over 500 yards in a 35-32 loss to Baker County, Fl., in its previous outing.
Making it all possible was the Wildcats’ fast improving offensive line which numbers Jeeramonti Greene as its only senior. Joining Greene up front are Ashtin Fisher, Brody Miller, Landon Hurst, Thomas Zimbalatti and Billy Meadows along with tight ends Andrew Matthews and Colton Sanchez. Fisher and Hurst are juniors while all the others are sophomores.
It’s a young unit coming together and showing signs of maturing at the right time. Following the game with Coffee, which leads Class 5A schools in scoring at 43.75 points per game, Richmond Hill closes out against a Region 1-7A lineup of Camden County, No. 8 Valdosta, Lowndes County and No. 3 Colquitt County.
After a slow start Goldrick is finding his footing as he has thrown for 549 yards his las two games. Goldrick, who said he was more mobile after dropping 20 pounds, has thrown for 872 yards and seven touchdowns. He opened the season with 73 yards against Effingham County, followed with 85 against Ware County and had 118 in a little over a half in a 38-10 blowout of Jenkins.
Grant has 37 catches for 439 yards while Gillard has become a force carrying the ball. A powerful runner at 5-10, 215 pounds, he has 526 yards on 116 carries. Last year he ran for 574 yards on 111 attempts.
Sophomore linebackers Gabe Bauman and Lee Johnson lead Wildcats tacklers with 45 and 34, respectively. Junior defensive end Brian Ruland has five sacks with Bauman and senior nose guard A’lyous Wilkerson registering two each.
While the Trojans (3-1) are ranked under first year coach Mike Noe the Wildcats will be the first team they’ve faced this season with a winning record. Coffee’s other wins came against Tift County (0-4) and St. Augustine, Fl., (2-2) while it lost to Bainbridge (2-3).