Fun and games time is over.
The serious business of getting ready for the upcoming football season got under way this past Monday for the Richmond Hill football team and Coach Matt LeZotte said he couldn’t be happier with the way the day went.
The Wildcats, who will play a pre-season game at 7:30 p.m. next Friday (Aug. 12) at Glynn Academy, will be moving up to Class 7A this year and will undertake one of most ambitious schedules in school history.
Richmond Hill will open its season Aug. 19 against Effingham County and the Rebels will be the only returnee from last year’s schedule. Every opponent on the schedule made the playoffs last year including Baker County, Fl., which was a semi-finalist in Class 5A.
The Wildcats had a less than stellar spring game which can be expected with a split squad and only 17 seniors on the roster, but the ever-optimistic LeZotte was upbeat.
“The mistakes are all correctable,” LeZotte said at the time. “The great thing about these kids is they don’t make the same mistake twice.”
His comments after Monday’s workout bore that out.
“Practice went really well,” LeZotte said. “The best part about it was this is a lot different team from the one that started on June 6.”
Quarterback Ty Goldrick, who was standing nearby, agreed with his coach’s assessment as to the team’s overall improvement shown over the summer.
In the spring Goldrick said the thing he would be working on the most during the summer was improving his agility in order to be more mobile in the pocket. Based on Monday’s practice it appears he has made positive strides in that direction.
Goldrick threw for 1,537 yards and 10 touchdowns last season and he will lead an offense which returns 70 per cent of its production including fellow seniors running back Zion Gillard and wide receiver Ravon Grant.
Gillard ran for 574 yards and Grant, who has been clocked at 4.2 seconds at 40 yards, had a breakout season as he caught 46 passes for 793 yards and five touchdowns. Grant had 1,068 all-purpose yards which included 220 yards on nine kickoff returns and 57 on six punt returns. He had a 75-yard kick return for a touchdown. One of the biggest question marks for the Wildcats is their youth. Approximately 80 percent of the roster is made up of underclassmen.
“Because of our youth we’ve got to continue to stretch their ability,” LeZotte said. “As players they’re a fun group who show up every day looking to get better.
"Our guys are dialed in every day.” LeZotte is starting his eighth season at Richmond Hill and the Wildcats will be looking to make the playoffs for the seventh straight year.
With a 43-33 record LeZotte holds the school record for most wins and playoff appearances and he joins Billy McGrath as the school’s longest tenured coach.
McGrath coached the 1992-1999 seasons.
Aug. 19: Effingham County; 26: at Ware County. Sept. 2: Jenkins; 10: Baker County, Fl., at Brunswick; 16: New Hampstead; 23: at Coffee County.
Oct. 7: Camden County*; 14: at Valdosta*’ 28: at Lowndes*. Nov. 4: Colquitt.