Preseason Football No. 3: After being 6A runner-up in 2013, Richards aiming higher
By Pat Disabato firstname.lastname@example.org August 26, 2014 8:52PM
Richards' Hasan Muhammad-Rogers | File photo
4. St. Rita
5. Joliet Catholic
6. Lincoln-Way East
8. Lincoln-Way North
9. Brother Rice
2. Coming Thursday
1. Coming Friday
Updated: September 28, 2014 6:25AM
Coming of a Class 6A state runner-up finish, many programs figure to suffer a drop in talent, reducing expectations the following season.
That’s not the case at perennial power Richards, which returns a slew of playmakers on both sides of the ball and claims the No. 3 spot in the SouthtownStar Preseason Top 10.
“We’ll be all right,” Bulldogs coach Tony Sheehan said. “This is the best offseason we’ve had. The kids busted their butts. We’re a little more experienced at the skill positions, and defensively we’re a little inexperienced. But we like what we see.”
What fans can expect to see is an offense that has the potential to put up points at a frenetic pace.
As far as quarterbacks go, the Bulldogs boast one of the area’s best in strong-armed Hasan Muhammad-Rogers. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound senior recorded 2,325 passing yards and 29 touchdowns in 2013.
He has a pair of familiar faces at receiver in 6-3 Spencer Tears and 5-8 Ryan Willett. Add 6-3 Romello Boykin, a transfer from Rolling Meadows, to the mix and the Bulldogs’ aerial attack looks downright scary.
“Hasan looks really good, and we have some talented kids at receiver,” Sheehan said. “It’s definitely exciting.”
Richards, however, won’t be a one-dimensional offense. Seniors Romeo Johnson (5-9, 185), and Romantay Hill (6-foot, 210) and sophomore Pat Doyle (5-8, 165) will be expected to help move the chains by way of a ground attack.
If there’s a question mark on offense, it’s on the line, where the Bulldogs return just one starter, senior Josh Hettiger (6-3, 225). However, there is help, albeit inexperienced, on the way, led by senior Demond Wilson (6-foot, 275).
“We have a lot of people who can play at a high level,” Hettiger said. “We just have to figure out where to put all the pieces.”
Defensively, seniors Kenny Spey (6-1, 220) and Joe Korpitz (6-2, 245) return on the line. Seniors Nick DeMarco, Lucas White and Roque Castro lead an experienced secondary. The most glaring void is at linebacker, where three-year starters Romeo Hill and Andrew Venerable have graduated. Along with his running back responsibilities, Romantay Hill will return to one of the linebacker spots.
Sheehan is confident some combination of juniors Kevin Thompson (6-1, 190) and Sean Good and sophomores Anthony Quinn (5-9, 175) and Doyle can fill the void at linebacker.
Junior Chris Casey, a transfer from Mount Carmel, should help out on the D-line and at receiver. Sophomore Andrew Calderon, a transfer from St. Rita, is being counted on to stabilize the kicking game.
“We have three three-year starters to replace on defense,” said Sheehan, referring to Venerable, Romel Hill and defensive end Savon Robinson. “But we have some kids who are talented, just untested. We’ve told the kids, ‘This is your opportunity. Go out and make your mark.’ ”
The Bulldogs fell 31-14 to Batavia in the Class 6A title game. That loss has provided additional motivation, according to Hettiger.
“Everyone was disappointed how last year ended,” Hettiger said. “We’re using that loss as fire for this season. We have the capability to go back to the state championship and finish what we started.”