THE BATTERS BOX
Those who think the quarterback is irrelevant in the Richwoods “run-between-the tackles” offense, might want to take a second look at Michael Davis.
Davis, the junior quarterback for the Knights, only threw two passes (one of them was a 20-yard touchdown), but his scrambling and leadership carried Richwoods to a first-round playoff win over Springfield Saturday.
Davis ran for 148 yards and three touchdowns during the 48-7 victory.
He is tall and lanky (6’4”, 180 pounds), but he is quick and turns on a burst of speed in the open field.
He used his quickness to scramble away from tackles at the line and break free along the outside.
He is also tough as nails, pardon the cliché.
He lowered his helmet and plowed over linemen for positive yardage on a few carries up the middle. After the crushing sound of helmet hitting shoulder pads, I expected Davis to be a little dazed, but he always got right back up.
Danny Ardis, the hands-down choice for Football Player of the Year in Central Illinois, had 166 yards and two touchdowns, and was his usual dominant self on offense.
But, Davis deserves a lot of credit for the victory on Saturday.
He did more than simply hand the ball off to Ardis. He ran the offense effectively, and made some spectacular plays.
His lone completion, a 20-yard touchdown pass to Peter Cunningham, was a perfect “touch pass.”
Davis scrambled to his right and put just enough air under the ball to get it over the defensive back and right into Cunningham’s hands.
If Richwoods coach Dave Lang was ever inclined to open up the passing game (that’s a big if), Davis would produce explosive numbers.
He is tall enough to see over the defense. He makes good decisions, and he has a great arm.
He only passes a couple times each game, but he makes the most of his chances, routinely hitting Cunningham and T.J. Cole for gains of at least 20 yards.
Maybe it is better that Davis remains a well-kept secret, so the element of surprise works in the Knights’ favor on passing plays. But it would be nice to see Davis pass at least 10 times each game, especially against teams that can stack the line and stop the run.
I’m not trying to tell Coach Lang how to run an offense. He is doing just fine on his own. His team is now 9-1 and his offensive line is making other teams’ defensive lines look like cardboard cutouts.
Richwoods has played this style of football for more than 30 years and it has been quite successful.
I’m just thinking from a fan’s point of view. It would be exciting to see Davis showcase his passing ability more often.
• Kudos to junior linebacker Jake Hoelzel, who had at least seven tackles.
• Junior running back/defensive back Nick Hines had three carries for 36 yards and also helped shut down the Springfield passing game. Hines gained 12 yards on a nicely-executed option play in the first quarter.
• Senior kicker Matt Batton nailed six kickoffs inside the 20-yard line, which prevented Springfield from getting a solid return or good field position.
• Richwoods had 20 first downs. Springfield had only eight first downs.
• The Knights, typically one of the least penalized teams in the area, had five penalties for 35 yards.
• The Knights were four- for-five on third down. Ardis was the ball carrier on all four of those conversions. He also made a first down on their only fourth-down play (a 12-yard gain on fourth-and-two).
• Springfield’s only touchdown came with 1:08 left in the first half on a fourth-down-and-goal play from the 7 yard line.
• Richwoods plays at Springfield Sacred Heart Griffin (9-1) 1 p.m. Saturday. Sacred Heart beat Chatham Glenwood, 35-21, in the first round.
• Sacred Heart Griffin has won nine in a row after a Week 1, 34-31, loss to Lombard Montini (10-0).
• The Cyclones have scored at least 50 points in five of their nine wins.