Knights' dream season ends

Tom Batters
Richwoods senior Nate Mahrt runs for a short gain Saturday against Joliet Catholic

Richwoods lost to Joliet Catholic, 54-7, in the Class 5A semi-final game Saturday, but that is not how coach Roland Brown will remember this team.

“If you judge this team by this one game alone, then you’re making a big mistake," Brown said. “These kids are winners. They represented this school and this city admirably. We lost to a great team today. I’m still very proud of every one of these kids.”

Brown had tears in his eyes as he spoke to his players in the locker room after the game.

“It never ends the way you want it to, unless you’re the state champion,” he told his team. “Life is full of disappointments. It’s all about how you handle it. Keep your heads up. You guys have a lot to be proud of.”

Brown, in his first season as head coach after serving as an assistant coach for 24 years, said this season was the most fun he ever had.

“This group was the best,” he said. “The players and coaches all had fun, and we loved coming to practice every day.”

On Saturday, one week after beating Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin in the quarterfinals, the Knights (11-2) faced Joliet Catholic, a program with 13 state championships.

“Joliet Catholic is a great team,” Brown said. “We made too many mistakes, and we didn’t tackle enough on defense. You have to play a near-perfect game to beat a team like that.”

The Knights committed five turnovers and allowed Joliet Catholic to gain 454 yards of total offense.

Tevin Hicks scored the only touchdown for the Knights (a 36-yard touchdown with 10:27 left in the first half).

On Joliet Catholic’s next possession, Nate Mahrt recovered the fumble on the kickoff to give Richwoods some hope. The Knights turned it over three plays later, though.

Richwoods gave the crowd something to cheer about when it converted a fake punt attempt with 5:47 left in the first half. On fourth down and six yards to go, Noah Moore dropped back to punt, pulled the ball back, and completed a 12-yard pass to Peter Cunningham for the first down.

The Knights made it to the JC 26 yard line before another turnover gave the ball back to the Hilltoppers.

“We just didn’t get it done,” Brown said. “But, there are a lot of teams that would love to be in our shoes right now. Our goal was to be the best we could be at the end of the year. We’re disappointed today, but, overall, the season turned out pretty good.”