Bulldogs run roughshod over Argo, secure playoff berth
Richards players understood Argo’s pain. Then they proceeded to add to it.
A week after dropping a gut-wrenching one-point verdict to South Suburban Conference Red leader Evergreen Park — just as the Bulldogs had in Week 5 — the Argonauts were forced to try and remedy themselves against Richards. That proved to be mission impossible.
The Bulldogs had to journey to Summit Friday night, but being the road team was about the only thing that didn’t directly benefit them. Its visitor status was of little consequence, however, to Richards.
Foremost among the Bulldogs’ batch of home wreckers was a defense that completely stifled an Argo offense that had amassed 44 points versus Evergreen and averaged slightly more than five touchdowns per contest through the season’s first six weeks. Against the Bulldogs, the Argonauts netted only 42 total yards, a number that was greatly affected by minus-58 rushing yards on 18 carries.
“We’re an attacking defense and we wanted to amp up the pressure,” Richards coach Tony Sheehan said. “We wanted to send guys from everywhere, confuse [Argo players] a little bit and put them in positions they didn’t want to be in.”
The strategy obviously worked, as the hosts became the ’Dogs’ second shutout victim in as many weeks. Richards beat the Argonauts 27-0 and, in the process, nailed down its fifth consecutive Class 6A playoff berth and the 28th in 29 years.
“We’re happy that we’re back in,” Sheehan said. “Obviously, [capturing] the conference [title] is out of the question unless somebody beats Evergreen, but getting win No. 6 and knowing you’re in [the state tournament] is good.”
Good wasn’t a strong enough adjective to describe the Bulldogs’ show of defensive dominance, which included a half-dozen quarterback sacks. Lineman Savon Robinson recorded half of those, along with two tackles for loss and eight total stops. Romel Hill (10 tackles), Andrew Venerable (six) and Dwayne Jiles (six) were other key figures.
“They were swarming and it was impressive,” Sheehan said. “Twenty-seven-to-nothing over a team averaging over 35 points a game [means] the defense played really, really well. We were never in danger of them scoring.”
Not once did the Argonauts even venture inside Richards’ red zone, which made the latter’s 13-0 halftime lead loom large. The Bulldogs (6-1, 3-1) had gained it on touchdowns by Dedrick Shannon (25-yard pass from Hasan Muhammad-Rogers) and Chrishawn Ross (1-yard run) in the first and second quarters, respectively.
What made Ross’ TD important was that it successfully culminated an eight-play, 70-yard march. Constructing lengthy scoring drives has not been a Richards staple this fall.
“The last two games, we’ve gotten a little better at that,” Sheehan said. “We need to take what [opposing defenses] give us, [both] by being able to run the ball and completing some short passes.”
But while the Bulldogs were seemingly in a comfortable position, Sheehan didn’t want his guys to become complacent and imagine a win was secured after 5only 24 minutes.
“They’ve got some athletes,” he said of Argo. “In the back of our minds, that was our thought — we’ve got to put some [more] points on the board.”
So that’s exactly what Richards did. The Bulldogs tallied twice in the third period to sew up the win, using a pair of Tacari Carpenter receptions to finish off the Argonauts. Carpenter latched onto throws of 40 and 31 yards from Muhammad-Rogers.
“You’re feeling pretty good at that point,” Sheehan said. “[Argo] had an emotional game the week before [on Saturday afternoon], and coming back on a short week isn’t easy.”
Richards wound up with 249 total yards, 152 of which were collected by Shannon and Carpenter on a combined seven catches. The Bulldogs did not commit any turnovers.
Sheehan harkened back to the disappointment of Richards’ loss to Evergreen as the impetus for its revival the past two weeks. The Bulldogs have outscored two plus-.500 foes 67-0 over that span.
“Week 5 still itches at us,” Sheehan said. “You’re dealing with 16- and 17-year-olds and they don’t focus as well as they should sometimes. We know we didn’t play our best that night, and the last two weeks we’ve shown that.”
Richards tangles with cross-town rival Oak Lawn Friday night. While the 2-5 Spartans might not appear a very big hurdle to clear, Sheehan will assuredly remind his athletes that Oak Lawn gave the Bulldogs one of their toughest battles last season before falling by 11 points.
“They’re a big, physical team, they’re sound and they’re well-coached,” Sheehan said. “It’s our homecoming, which can be a coach’s nightmare, but we want to keep momentum going. Eight-and-one is still a good season, and we can get a high [playoff] seed if we do that.”
Richards 7 6 14 0 - 27
Argo 0 0 0 0 - 0
First downs 12 —
Yds. rushing 89 (-58)
Yds. passing 160 100
Total yds. 249 42
Att./comp. 15-8 29-13
Fumbles/lost 0-0 1-0
Had intercepted 0 0
Penalties/yds. 8-85 6-50
Punts/avg. 6-40.0 —
HLR — Dedrick Shannon, 25-yd. pass from Hasan Muhammad-Rogers (Shawn Chiaramonte kick)
HLR — Chrishawn Ross, 1-yd. run (kick failed)
HLR — Tacari Carpenter, 40-yd. pass from Muhammad-Rogers (Chiaramonte kick)
HLR — Carpenter, 31-yd. pass from Muhammad-Rogers (Chiaramonte kick)
Richards Rushing: Muhammad-Rogers 8-37, Ross 9-22, Carpenter 4-22, Tears 2-17, Demma 3-(-9). Passing: Muhammad-Rogers 15-8-160. Receiving: Shannon 4-81, Carpenter 3-71, Tears 1-8.