Disabato: Richards doesn’t miss a beat in Mister’s absence
Pat Disabato firstname.lastname@example.org | (708) 802-8837 September 9, 2012 6:16PM
Richards' Ramontay Hill (33) takes the ball up field. | Allen Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media
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Updated: October 11, 2012 6:08AM
When a team is forced to compete without its best athlete, which just so happens to be its quarterback, the outlook for a Friday Night Lights celebration would appear dim.
Let me further clarify: Quarterback Tommy Mister isn’t just Richards’ best athlete, he’s one of the top athletes in the state.
He’s being recruited by multiple Division I college programs. Notre Dame, Illinois and Indiana already have offered scholarships.
Granted, he’s not being pursued as a quarterback. But at the high school level, Mister, a junior, is one heck of a QB. He can run, throw and make smart decisions.
On Friday night against Evergreen Park, however, he was relegated to the sidelines, resting a left ankle he injured during a gut-wrenching 15-13 Week 2 defeat to Morris.
But not even Mister’s absence could prevent Richards from enacting its revenge on Evergreen Park.
Heck, short of an act from God, nothing could have stopped Richards from executing its game plan.
The Bulldogs were too focused, too talented, too good Friday.
On Sept. 23, 2011, Richards experienced one of the most embarrassing losses in its proud existence when Evergreen Park walked off Gary Korhonen Field with a 33-0 win over the Bulldogs.
So shocking was the loss that when I read the score in this newspaper, I had to call Richards coach Tony Sheehan for verification.
33-0? At home?
The Bulldogs weren’t that bad — they came one play away from winning the South Suburban Red title — and the Mustangs, well, despite advancing to the Class 4A semifinals, I just didn’t think they were capable of humiliating Richards to that degree.
Fast forward to Friday night.
No Mister? No problem for the Bulldogs.
Hasan Muhammed-Rogers, a sophomore, stepped in at quarterback and guided Richards to a dominant 35-0 win in Evergreen Park.
The Bulldogs meant business and, yes, revenge was a motivating force.
“After last year’s whipping, the kids were reminded of it,” Sheehan said. “They were ready to play tonight.”
Muhammed-Rogers led the charge. The kid was very impressive. If Mister wasn’t such a marvelous talent, Sheehan would have a quarterback controversy on his hands.
Muhammed-Rogers completed 9-of-17 passes for 149 yards and two touchdowns and picked up an additional 79 yards rushing. He also returned punts.
When Mister returns, which could be as soon as Friday night against Argo, Muhammed-Rogers will shift back to his normal position at strong safety.
“There’s no quarterback controversy,” Sheehan said, laughing. “Hasan’s a football player. He’s one of the best players on our team and he’s only a sophomore. The kid can play, there’s no doubt about it.”
When I asked Richards’ two-way standout Brian Hettiger if registering a shutout Friday was a goal of the defense, he looked me dead in the eye and responded with these words: “Nobody is going to score on us ... the rest of the season.”
That’s a lofty ambition, I know. But the way the Bulldogs defense performed Friday night, that boast is not as far-fetched as it would appear.
Evergreen Park totaled 88 yards of offense. Richards running back Ramontay Hill nearly eclipsed that total during one play, an 81-yard touchdown run.
Led by Savon Robinson, DiAndre Smith and Hettiger, the Bulldogs defense is super quick, aggressive and technically sound.
Homewood-Flossmoor received quite a scare from Lincoln-Way Central on Friday night. The Vikings needed a last-minute touchdown reception from Pat Sheehan to dispose of Lincoln-Way Central 21-17.
Two things instantly come to mind: One, H-F might not yet be ready to be mentioned among the elite in Class 8A. Second, Lincoln-Way Central, 3-15 the past two years, might be ready to turn the corner and get back to respectability.
Few teams have been as impressive as Tinley Park. The Titans are 3-0 and have outscored opponents 99-38. We’ll find out just how for real the Titans are Friday when they host Lemont, which has outscored opponents — sit down, folks — 138-0 thus far.