The Richmond High School football team suffered its second loss of the season on Friday night, 17-8 to Mt. Eden, but Oilers players and coaches said after the game that the close score showed that maybe after a few tough seasons the team was starting to turn the corner.
The game featured the highs and lows of a team searching to play consistent football: a fourth-down defensive stop, a momentum-building long drive that slipped away in an untimely fumble, a fumbled punt that led to Mt. Eden’s first touchdown.
“We’ve just got to do a better job of focusing the whole game,” Richmond Head Coach Tashaka Merriweather said. “We stopped them defensively a lot of the time, but we would give up a big play in a critical down and that would end up hurting us. Same thing on offense. … We did a pretty good job offensively but a critical fumble, offsides or mishap cost us when it counted most.”
Mt. Eden carried a 17-0 lead into the fourth quarter, when Richmond’s Travon Clay got a chance to show off his skills. Less than two minutes into the quarter, Clay took a handoff inside the Monarchs’ 10-yard line and sped into the end zone for an Oiler touchdown — the first points scored all year for Richmond.
On the ensuing extra point attempt, Clay took the snap and fumbled the football. He quickly scooped it up and outran the Mt. Eden defenders to the end zone for a two-point conversion, cutting the Monarchs’ lead to 17-8.
Later in the fourth quarter, Clay seemed to have scored his second touchdown of the night on a long run from midfield, but the play was called back for a penalty. Richmond coaches and players shouted at the referees after the call and Merriweather went out on to the field to try and get an explanation. Defensive Coordinator Greg Morris said that the referees did not explain the penalty.
Even with the frustrating finish to the game, Merriweather found positives in his team’s performance. “Our kids did exactly what we worked on all week and that was just being more coachable,” he said. “I think they are starting to buy in and then this is just going to be another learning lesson for us. Hopefully we can use this as momentum and make it a teachable moment for them.”
Mt. Eden Head Coach Paul Perenon also noted the Oiler’s improvement.
“Richmond obviously took a look at what had happened to them on their home field last week and said ‘Not again,’ and they played to it,” Perenon said. “They played very well and we did just enough right and just enough better to end up prevailing in a tight football game.”
The Oilers will go on the road to take on Salesian next Saturday. Senior running back Nethaniel House said his team would be prepared. “We are going to hit the weight room and come out 10 times harder to get ready for Salesian,” he said.
After the game, senior Jorge Diaz’s eyes were filled with a mixture of sweat and tears. The team captain vowed to perform better next week.
“All these tears that were shed, it is not for no reason,” he said. “We’re about to bounce back.”