By Tim Cronin
In the moments before Friday night’s game versus Lincoln-Way Central at Jonas Lashmet Field, an official told Richards quarterback Javon Robinson he had to remove his diamond earrings.
That was about the only moment of the night that wasn’t glittering for the Bulldogs.
With their defense holding the Knights to 148 yards and Iowa-bound running back Leshon Williams running for 165 yards, Richards had a distinct advantage on each side of the line of scrimmage.
Small wonder, then, that Bulldogs head coach Tony Sheehan wasn’t completely pleased with the opening night victory. Richards played well but Central was equally gritty, which helped account for the 14-7 margin, smaller than Richards’ effort might have predicted.
“There were a few things we should have taken advantage of, and we didn’t,” Sheehan said.
Sheehan’s viewpoint probably moderated after he looked at the video of the victory.
For one thing, Williams was Williams. Those 165 yards came on 23 carries, and 85 of them came on four rushes of 30, 25, 16 and 13 yards. The other 80 yards were hard-earned, and all of them helped accomplish two things: They kept the chains and clock moving, and they frustrated the Knights to no end. If Williams wasn’t running past a defender or three, he was carrying one along for the trip.
“It was a ground-and-pound game,” said Williams, who played through a third-quarter cramp. “It was a battle. I knew I couldn’t come out of the game. I had to play through it.”
The only thing Williams didn’t do was score. Richards built its 14-0 lead on senior quarterback Javon Robinson’s 26-yard touchdown pass to Trishawn Lott midway through the first quarter and Robinson’s nine-yard dash though a gaping hole in the line with 8:50 left in the third quarter, the score coming one snap after his 27-yard scramble to set it up.
Robinson ran for 41 yards on 12 carries and completed six of 13 passes for 66 yards, with one touchdown and one interception. Lott ran for 42 yards and caught two passes for 30 more.
Lincoln-Way Central’s only touchdown came late in the third quarter, a three-yard pass from Liam Higgins to Colin Shanahan on a play-action gambit. Until then and to the finish, the Bulldogs were allowing nothing.
The key in that regard came midway through the second period, when Central mounted a 14-play drive that moved 60 yards across 7 minutes 53 seconds, but got no further than the Richards 11, when Carter Bojan ran to the right and was turned back at the line of scrimmage. The Knights could gain only 88 yards in 29 plays on their other seven possessions – barely three yards per play.
Richards also opened with a victory over Lincoln-Way Central last year, the beginning of an undefeated run that reached an abrupt end in the Class 6A semifinal at Crete-Monee. Their second game of the season last year was a 14-0 victory at St. Rita. They host the Mustangs this Friday, knowing one thing is certain.
“We’ve got to stay focused,” Williams said.
Or, as Sheehan put it, “We’ve got to clean up our mistakes and be ready to go. We’ve got to strap it on and be ready to go.”