RICHMOND FOOTBALL AND THE BATTLE OF THERMOPYLAE
The first thought that came to mind Friday night before the Red Devils were to take on Lawrence North was the movie”300”. If you aren’t familiar with “300”, it was made in 2006 and is a fictionalized retelling of the “Battle of Thermopylae” within the Persian War.
The plot revolves around King Leonidas, who leads 300 Spartans into battle against Persian “god-King” Xerxes and his invading army of 300,000. To make a long story short, King Leonidas gave a great effort, but eventually lost that battle. In the long run, the Spartans re-grouped and came back bigger and stronger than ever.
Richmond ran into Xerxes Friday night. The Wildcats proved to be too big and too fast and had way too many warriors for the Red Devils. Lawrence North had a roster of nearly 90, most upperclassmen. Richmond may have had 50, many freshmen and sophomores. The odds weren’t good going in.
Despite the loss, I was encouraged because I saw a “fight” in Richmond until the very end. They didn’t hang their heads and pout. They didn’t feel sorry for themselves. In fact, they were already putting the game plan together for next week’s NCC opener at Tech. Richmond Coach Tony Lewis made it clear after the loss….Richmond will learn from this, if they pay attention to details in practice.
Coach Lewis knew going into this contest the cards were stacked against him and his football team. Richmond had a little “hangover” from the Connersville win. The crowd was enthusiastic and loud. Some of the young players weren’t quite ready for the setting. Lewis told me after the game they didn’t have the best week of practice. Not a good formula when facing a team out of the MIC.
Richmond lacks the depth to stay with a team like Lawrence North. The Wildcats had 22 separate starters and several quality back-ups. Richmond played almost everyone both ways and on special teams. The Red Devils played physical up-front, but the Wildcats were just as physical. And, to make things even worse, Richmond started suffering injuries in the second half, including starting running back/defensive back Wyatt Byrd. And yet, they kept fighting.
Remember, this is going to take a little time to get fixed. The lack of “depth” isn’t a result of what happened over the last couple of seasons. It’s a result of a “feeder” system that was nearly dead and a middle-school program that made the mistake of combining the two remaining schools into one program. The result? You see it now!!! Those two huge mistakes are the direct result of a roster that lacks depth and lacks players in the program.
Now, give Coach Lewis and his staff, the middle school coaches and the re-vamped feeder system time to put gas back into the tank. The “right” people are now in place and we all need to be patient. There will be growing pains ahead, but like the “Spartans” in the movie 300, they lost the battle and won the war!