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Richmond High caps season with another loss but looks ahead to next year

on November 11, 2011

While De Anza High celebrated on the field, passing around the Richmond Cup, Richmond High’s star senior Isaiah Brown wept on the sidelines after a dismal end to a dismal season.

For Brown it would be the last time he would ever wear pads. It would be the last time he would take the field with his fellow Oilers, and Thursday night was not how he wanted to go out.

De Anza (2-7), a school from across town with as dismal a record as its foe, demoralized Richmond (1-9) at Richmond 50-6 on senior night.

“I expected to go out better,” Brown said. “It’s my last football game – ever.”

Brown scored the Oilers’ lone touchdown off a 32-yard pass in the final seconds of the first half, injecting some life back into his weary teammates as they headed for the locker room. Coach Tashaka Merriweather guarded the door.

“You don’t want to be here for this one,” he said, referring to the halftime speech.

Whatever he said didn’t translate to the scoreboard.

De Anza quickly halted Richmond’s brief momentum when it scored its fifth touchdown several minutes into the third quarter, running uncontested up the middle and into the endzone. On the next drive De Anza returned an interception 45 yards for a 42-6 lead.

But, as Merriweather pointed out, at this point in the season it wasn’t just about winning.

“It became a different mission,” he said. “It was about keeping us together, finishing the season, the small victories.”

On this cold and clear night, Merriweather repeatedly reminded his players, “There is no tomorrow.”

The first-year coach was right. There is no tomorrow – for the seniors. But for the rest there is next season, which starts – with offseason workouts – in just two months.

“They think football starts the first day of school in August,” Merriweather said. “It starts in January.”

Merriweather isn’t just referring to weight training and spring practice. He wants to start building interest in the football program as a whole, which will be essential if the team is to move forward. Last week Richmond had to forfeit to Berkeley because it didn’t have enough players.

“No one’s showing up to practice,” Brown said.

Brown has been the team’s lifeline this season and often the only one to put points on the board. He plans to play basketball at a community college next year.

“To be someone and to be noticed, even for an underdog league, means a lot,” he said, with tears still running down his cheeks. “No matter what sets you back or what stands in your way, all that matters is who is with you through it, through the thick and thin. We’re like a family.”

Merriweather hopes to build on a core group of sophomores and juniors who will be returning next year. After the game he made them stay and watch De Anza’s victory celebration – so each one could see what they are working toward.

“We can go nowhere but up,” he said.

Richmond was outscored 456 to 97 over 10 games this season, with its only win coming when another team had to forfeit for not having enough players.

“I feel like the season is incomplete,” Merriweather said. “ We didn’t get to accomplish some things we wanted to, but I’m never going to quit on them. So, they don’t quit on me.”

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