Oilers take back the Richmond Cup on senior night
on November 3, 2012
The Richmond Oilers capped off the season with their second win, taking home the Richmond Cup in a 14-6 home victory over the De Anza Dons.
For senior Devonte Anderson, the win fulfilled a goal he set in last year’s dispiriting loss to De Anza.
“I wasn’t going to forget that moment,” Anderson said. He said he promised himself he would win the cup back for the Oilers. “I kept my word,” he said. “I kept my promise. That’s my biggest achievement I’ve made.”
A week after Richmond had its homecoming game and dance interrupted by a shooting nearby, the police presence was visible as officers paced the sidelines. But this night, for the Oilers, was just about football.
Both teams scored a touchdown in the first quarter, and the Oilers defense was strong, keeping it tied 6-6 for most of the game.
Anderson opened the scoring on a fourth down play in the Dons’ red zone. Anderson dropped back to pass, quickly realized he didn’t have an open receiver, scrambled to the outside, and beat the defenders to the end zone.
On the ensuing two-point conversion, Anderson’s pass was incomplete. The Oilers 6-0 lead did not last long. In their next possession, De Anza caught up with a touchdown, and it stayed tied until a dramatic last few minutes.
The Oilers jumped ahead in the fourth quarter on Tra’von Clay’s 51-yard touchdown run.
With two and a half minutes left in the game, the Oilers added onto their lead with a two-point conversion, putting them eight points ahead.
The Oilers’ celebration began just before the game ended when Head Coach Tashaka Merriweather got a surprising ice bath from one of the players.
As the clock ran out, Anderson ran to the sidelines, prompting cheers from the crowd, and screamed, “that cup belongs to us!”
Cheerleaders nearly knocked over the towering quarterback as they ran to congratulate Anderson. Steam rolled off his head, and he wore a permanent smile as pictures were snapped of him with his family.
The night before, the team was meeting for their last practice of the season.
For some players, Friday night was the last time they would ever compete in a football jersey. At practice Thursday, Merriweather had said he wanted to use the players’ extra emotional charge to the team’s advantage.
“The last senior night is always an emotional night,” Merriweather said. “We’ll try to find a way to take control of their emotion and redirect it to the field.”
Holding his mother’s hand firmly, senior Jorge Diaz wiped away tears as he walked onto the field for the last time as a player for the Oilers.
Diaz never left the field.
“I wanted that trophy,” Diaz said. “Honestly, that’s the only thing I really wanted out of the whole season.”
Diaz was one of 10 seniors the Oilers said goodbye to Friday night.
Sheila Fudge said the last year has been hard for her youngest son, senior Markeith Mason. Mason was shot in the leg in a drive-by two years ago in North Richmond. Though he’s recovered, a metal rod in his leg remains.
Mason’s brother Monty Ousley said he’s seen Mason on the verge of quitting football. When he first started playing, Ousley said Mason didn’t want to do resistance training and was getting a lot of penalties initially.
“He’s an intense player,” Ousley said. But now, “he’s harnessed it” and he’s at the top of his game.
In the first half, several Richmond players become visibly frustrated—during water breaks and as they came off the field, some blamed their teammates for plays that didn’t go the Oilers’ way.
Merriweather told the team at half-time that the “only reason we lose is that we can’t get past each other.”
Anderson acknowledged that this season has been filled with emotional highs and lows. He hugged Merriweather after the game and thanked him for “putting up with everything.”
Anderson learned last week that he will be traveling to Australia for one week next summer in a tournament with Down Under Sports.
His mother and sister moved from their seat in the stands to the sidelines after halftime. Anderson’s mom, Jacqueline Frazier, said she’ll remember most her son’s painful leg cramps, which would wake her up in the middle of the night—a sign, she said, of his increased dedication to the team.
Merriweather said what he’s learned this year is to pay attention to the small things, and be careful not to get too caught up with football.
But, he said he’s “already started thinking about next year,” which Merriweather said he hopes can include a freshman league in addition to the junior varsity and varsity league.
Beginning next season, Merriweather said his plan is to “get back into the weight room and start from scratch.”
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