Reavis treated roughly by inspired Bulldogs
Evergreen Park certainly did Reavis no favor.
By squeezing out a victory over Richards in the closing seconds of a Week 5 showdown between two unbeaten squads, the Mustangs no doubt put Bulldogs players in an ugly frame of mind. Richards coach Tony Sheehan didn’t deny it, but stated that his guys used the Evergreen “wake-up call” in a positive manner.
“This was probably one of our best weeks of practice,” Sheehan said. “The kids were really focused. I think they realize what’s in front of them and what’s at stake, and we came ready to play Friday night.”
Did they ever. While the visiting Rams threatened to make some early noise, the Bulldogs’ defense refused Reavis entry into the end zone. Richards’ offense, meanwhile, racked up four first-half touchdowns and eventually claimed a resounding 40-0 South Suburban Conference Red triumph at Korhonen Field.
“I hope it will continue,” Sheehan said of his team’s solid exhibition,” and I think it will. You’ve got to play your best every week or you’re going to get beat because this conference is so balanced. We learned that last week.
“I think it was important to our kids to come out and dominate and show what kind of team we really are. It’s good for the confidence.”
Despite all of the Bulldogs’ preparation, they very nearly fell behind the Rams at the outset. Reavis advanced inside Richards’ red zone twice, doing so one time on a series kept alive by a fake punt and an ensuing penalty called against the hosts.
However, the Bulldogs’ prevention corps stiffened in both instances, once by throwing a Rams ball carrier for a 1-yard loss on a fourth-and-2 play. Richards then proceeded to travel 89 yards in the other direction, with Tacari Carpenter providing the payoff on his catch of a 27-yard Hasan Muhammad-Rogers’ touchdown pass.
Muhammad-Rogers went deep to Ryan Willett a few minutes later, and the latter’s 60-yard grab extended the ’Dogs’ edge to 12-0. Muhammad-Rogers (19 yards) and Ramontay Hill (55 yards) then supplied second-period scoring runs within a span of 2:20, which enabled Richards to carry a healthy lead into halftime.
“Getting that last score at the end of the half was big momentum-wise,” Sheehan said, referring to Hill’s TD sprint, which came with just 1:14 remaining.
Hill rushed for 135 yards on only eight carries, as his coach sought to limit his touches because of a need for Hill to see plenty of action on defense due to some injury issues elsewhere along the unit.
Although once known for the number of quality tailbacks it produced on an almost-annual basis, the Bulldogs’ offense in recent years has become more noted for its aerial antics. Hill’s nod to the program’s past wasn’t merely an exercise in nostalgia, however, at least in Sheehan’s eyes.
“We’ve got guys outside who need to get their hands on the ball and a quarterback who can fling it,” the coach said. “We adjust to the personnel we have, but we’re trying to be 50-50 [between the rush and pass] and we do have running backs who can run the ball [effectively].
“If you want to do anything in the playoffs, your defense has to be able to stop the run and you have to be able to run it yourself.”
Richards (5-1, 2-1) delivered what amounted to the death blow to Reavis at the start of the third stanza, as Muhammad-Rogers raced 5 yards to culminate a five-play possession on the home team’s initial possession of the half. Place-kicker Shawn Chiaramonte, who has struggled to find a rhythm this fall, converted the extra point and then booted another one following Carpenter’s 64-yard dash, which concluded the Bulldogs’ scoring with eight minutes left in the quarter.
That put a running clock into operation and all but assured the Rams of having to absorb a shutout. Romel Hill (10 tackles), Savon Robinson (eight stops, one sack) and Andrew Venerable (eight tackles) were the defensive ringleaders for Richards.
“It was a little bend, but we had some new guys [in the lineup] and guys in different positions because of injuries,” Sheehan said. “The defense hasn’t been [completely] intact since Week 2, and at times it gets frustrating. It was kind of a mix and match [here] — we were looking to see what worked and what didn’t, and then we went with what worked.”
With the win, the Bulldogs became playoff-eligible. They will officially nail down their fifth consecutive postseason berth and 28th in the past 29 years if they can defeat Argo on Friday in Summit.
The Argonauts, like Richards, dropped a one-point decision to Evergreen that knocked them from the undefeated ranks. Friday’s winner will still be alive in the conference race, while the losing club will be eliminated from championship contention.
Sheehan would love for the Bulldogs to grab at least a share of the Red Division crown, but he admits that will require outside assistance. More sharply in Richards’ field of vision is the chance to get on a roll that will carry it deep into November.
“Look at Mt. Carmel last year — they lost to Loyola [Academy] and then ran the table [in Class 8A],” Sheehan said. “Anything’s possible.”
Reavis 0 0 0 0 - 0
Richards 12 14 14 0 - 40
First downs — 16
Yds. rushing — 342
Yds. passing — 169
Total yds. — 511
Att./comp. — 16-7
Fumbles/lost 0-0 0-0
Had intercepted 0 0
Penalties/yds. — 6-75
Punts/avg. — 0-0
HLR — Tacari Carpenter, 27-yd. pass from Hasan Muhammad-Rogers (kick failed)
HLR — Ryan Willett, 60-yd. pass from Muhammad-Rogers (kick failed)
HLR — Muhammad-Rogers, 19-yd. run (pass failed)
HLR — Ramontay Hill, 55-yd. run (Spencer Tears, pass from Muhammad-Rogers)
HLR — Muhammad-Rogers, 5-yd. run (Shawn Chiaramonte kick)
HLR — Carpenter, 64-yd. run (Chiaramonte kick)
Richards Rushing: Ra. Hill 8-135, Ross 4-77, Carpenter 1-64, Muhammad-Roger 6-51, Tears 4-8, Coffman 3-7. Passing: Muhammad-Rogers 16-7-179. Receiving: Willett 2-76, Tears 2-42, Shannon 2-24, Carpenter 1-27.