Friday, June 14, 2013

Does Coach Tony Sheehan...

...of Richards have the most talent-laden football team in the state of Illinois? (Am I nuts?)

No, wait; hear me out.

According to, Richards has eight -- count 'em, eight -- recruiting prospects, more than any other school (by my count). Besides seniors Tacari Carpenter, WR; Savon Robinson, DE; DiAndre Smith, OLB; Romel Hill, MLB and Dylan Jiles, S; the Oak Lawn squad is also expected to field juniors Hasan Muhammad-Rogers, QB; Spencer Tears, WR and Romantay Hill, S (Romel's younger brother?).

Holy cow! (How come these guys never hit my radar before?)

Is it because the Bulldogs are new at this stuff and don't have any football tradition? Hardly.

Last year, Richards went undefeated in the South Suburban Red Conference and finished the season at 9-2. And before Sheehan, who is 36-17, took over the team in 2008, Richards was coached by the legendary Gary Korhonen, who held the record for most career victories (306) until it was broken by a certain Mount Carmel coach whose name escapes me right now.

In fact, according to Wikipedia my research staff, Richards holds the record for most consecutive playoff appearances at 23 years and didn't lose two games in a row from 1984 to 2003! What's more, the Bulldogs won two state titles, in 1988 and '89, and have sent over 300 players on to the college ranks. (One of whom was Sheehan, the quarterback on the 1995 team that went 12-1.)

So what does the 2013 Richards schedule look like? Well, let's have a look, shall we? (2012 records in parentheses.)

Aug. 30 Harlan (3-5)

Sept. 6 @ Batavia (9-1)
Sept. 13 @ Lemont (11-2)
Sept. 20 @ Shepard (7-4)
Sept. 27 Evergreen Park (9-4)

Oct. 4 Reavis (4-5)
Oct. 11 @ Argo (2-7)
Oct. 18 Oak Lawn (2-7)
Oct. 25 @ Eisenhower (4-5)

After the opener, Richards faces four formidable opponents in a row. (Builds character.) I'm not aware of any previous meetings between Richards and Batavia so this first matchup of the Bulldogs vs. the Bulldogs could be a doozy. (Needless to say, I'll have my money on the Bulldogs.) But Richards doesn't seem to shy away from good non-conference opponents. Last year their only regular-season loss was to Morris, 15-13, in Week Two.

Next comes Lemont, who eliminated the Bulldogs in the second round of the playoffs last year. The Indians have been a particularly tough nut to crack for Richards. They haven't beaten Lemont since they edged them, 23-22, in 2007.

Weeks Five and Six bring Shepard, which hasn't beaten Richards in the modern era (beginning in 2004), and Evergreen Park (the alma mater of the unabomber), which has only beaten the Bulldogs once in recent years, a 33-0 shellacking in 2011. (What was that all about?)

After that, it's all downhill for the Bulldogs.

So with a possible early loss to either Batavia or Lemont, I'd put Richards' record at 8-1 going into the postseason. Not bad for a team that lost its star running back, Tommy Mister, to St. Rita over the off-season. But don't get any ideas about those two teams meeting up in the playoffs; while Richards is in 6A, St. Rita is in 7A. Darn!

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