Ain't that a kick in the head

  • Written by Phil Arvia




Photo by Jeff Vorva

Richards and Eisenhower players keep their eye on the ball as Andrew Calderon’s first-quarter kick from 29 yards out was good to give Richards a 3-0 lead Friday night. Calderon nailed a 51-yarder late in the game to give Richards momentum but the Bulldogs lost, 33-27 in Blue Island.



It’s not often that Gary Korhonen sees something he’s never seen before on a football field.

The 75-year-old coach, who gave up the Richards reins in 2008 after 36 seasons and 306 wins, toils now as the linebackers coach at Dist. 218 rival Eisenhower. Friday in Blue Island, he watched as Bulldogs kicker Andrew Calderon booted a 51-yard field goal.

Asked if he believed it to be a school record, Korhonen said, “I’m sure it is. We barely kicked extra points.”

Later, he added, “That’s the longest one I’ve ever seen kicked against me — the longest one I’ve ever seen standing on a sideline. The longest one we ever made was probably about 40 yards back in 1997 — I can’t remember the kid’s name. He was Swedish. We called him Sven.”

Calderon’s kick brought a flicker of hope to the Richards sideline, as it brought the Bulldogs within a touchdown with 6:26 to play. However, two snaps after the ensuing kick, Eisenhower’s Rayshawn Graham sprinted 79 yards around the left end for a backbreaking touchdown in what became a 33-27 Cardinals win. It was just the second time in 20 meetings Ike beat Richards.

The decision left Eisenhower (6-1, 4-0) in the South Suburban Red driver’s seat, though the Cardinals must go to Reavis (6-1, 4-1) this week. Richards (4-3, 3-1) needs at least one win over its final two contests with Evergreen Park (3-4, 2-2) and Oak Lawn (1-6, 1-4) to have a shot at a seventh state qualifier in coach Tony Sheehan’s eight seasons.

Calderon’s kick, said Richards linebackers coach Rick Pratl, “put us right where we needed to be. But we couldn’t get over the hump.”

Calderon got Richards off on the right foot, kicking a 29-yard field goal at the 8:00 mark of the first quarter to give his team a 3-0 lead.

“Coach Sheehan has a lot of confidence in him,” Pratl said. “(Calderon) is a soccer and baseball player, he came to us after spending his freshman year at St. Rita. He was up on the varsity all season last year, and as the season went on his kicking got better and better and better.

“He’s just a tough kid. He got hurt last year making a tackle. He’s working out this year with the safeties. But I’m sure he’d rather have a win than the record.”

Calderon, a junior, concurred.

“Richards is a special school,” he said. “I’d do anything for this school. But this is a loss.”

The record-breaker, which was kicked into a steady breeze coming out of the north, cleared the crossbar with room to spare. Calderon had never made one of that distance even in practice.

“Fifty was my best,” he said. “I’ve tried a couple of 55-yarders but didn’t make them.

“This one, I saw the snap was perfect, the hold was perfect. I knew I had it all the way.” 

Calderon’s mark won’t crack the IHSA record books, which show 28 field goals of 52 yards or longer in state history. Tucker McCann of O’Fallon set the state mark of 60 yards in October of 2014.

Neither could the Bulldogs crack Eisenhower, which scored three straight touchdowns to grab 20-3 lead with 3:20 to play in the second quarter then held on.

Graham led the way, scoring three touchdowns and carrying 21 times for 109 yards. Eisenhower quarterback Cortez Jackson had a pair of one-yard touchdown runs and added 183 on 8-of-12 passing.

Running back Pat Doyle provided the bulk of Richards’ offense, carrying 30 times for 151 yards. He had a three-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter and an 11-yarder in the third, while Jake Moran threw a seven-yarder to Noah Petro in the game’s final minute.