This is a movie I have seen way too many times in the last several years at Richmond High School. The once proud football program may have just hit rock bottom. Coach Tony Lewis is the latest to say goodbye to a program that so desperately needs stability.

It came as a shock to most everyone I talked to. And then the question….WHY?

Well for Coach Lewis it’s probably a “better” opportunity. It’s probably an established football program, not a re-building program, like this one… for the last several years and counting.

So we start over again. And what direction do we go? Do we find someone in-house with RHS ties? Do we find someone from around the area? Or, do we try to go outside again? That’s the million dollar question.

There isn’t an easy answer to fixing Richmond’s football program. It has been broken for several years simply because the feeder system was ignored and left to take care of itself, which it did. Now we see what happens when you turn your back on the very system that is supposed to produce numbers in a sport that needs numbers!

Whomever the next coach will be will have the task of starting over again. Yes, Coach Tawfeek and Coach Lewis did a lot to get respect back into this program, but one year stints won’t work. The next coach and his staff are going to have to be committed to “long term” solutions. RHS needs a 5-10 year commitment if this program is to get going strong again. And that means commitment from the youth leagues to the middle school program to the freshmen and JV.

I saw the hard work both coaches put in to try and get it going again. The hours they put in were astronomical. The time they both spent getting players to come out and stay with the process was nothing short of a miracle. Many of the players never played football before and yet Abe and Tony were ready and willing to give them every chance to become good football players. Some panned out, some didn’t. But, the effort was there.

I witnessed the frustration at times for both coaches. I am not sure they realized just how bad it was when the took the job, but they gave everything they had to make a difference.

I must admit I was sorry to see Abe leave and I am sorry to see Tony leave too. Both to me are very good coaches and great people. Both are dedicated to the game of high school football and both wanted to see our young men become even better people. They cared about their well being on and off the field. Yes, they aren’t perfect, but who is? All I know is both were wanting nothing more than to bring Richmond a winner again. Both wanted to build the youth programs again and do it the right way. They have made strides and I am sure we will see the fruits of their labor soon.

So let’s look ahead. Get ready for some grueling hard work. The returning players will have to get into the weight room and train, not just work out, but train to be better players. They may  have to do much of the work on their own.  Study the game and have a better understanding of what is expected of you. You should know what to expect and prepare like you are playing  this Friday.

I know the Richmond football community wasn’t prepared to go through this process again, but whatever you do, don’t give up hope. Don’t give up on the players that have given their all to make this program better. I know they won only two games last season, but I also saw a team that never quit at anytime no matter what the scoreboard said. Their willingness to fight every Friday night made me very proud of them.