RICHMOND HILL, Ga. (WSAV) – Walk onto Richmond Hill’s practice field and its hard to miss the message posted on a giant, bright-yellow sign.
“How’s it feel to be history makers?”
Friday night’s win over 6A powerhouse Valdosta punched Richmond Hill’s ticket to the GHSA semifinals for the first time in program history.
“It’s been a theme of this year was making history,” wide receiver Tavion Chini said. “Once those double zeros came [on the scoreboard] I thought ‘Wow that’s crazy we actually beat Valdosta’ and seeing everyone come on the field was amazing.”
The Wildcats forced three turnovers in the first half, scored the go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter, and held Valdosta scoreless in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
“I thought about this after the game that this is going to be one of those wins and victories that they are going to remember and talk about for the rest of their lives,” head coach Matt LeZotte said at Monday’s practice. “To be a part of that and help make it happen that’s why I do what I do.”
The Wildcats’ path to a semifinal berth, much less a region championship, was far from clear. Three straight loses, like the Wildcats suffered in September, could derail any team’s season. Fast-forward to December and Richmond Hill has yet to lose another game.
“We have that special bond that takes some teams years to form,” junior defensive end Shaquan Brooks explained. “I’ve been with some of these boys since seventh grad. I’ve been with them for a long time and we have that dog mentality together. We are competitive within our own unit.”
The semifinal game pits Richmond Hill against another tough foe in Allatoona. The Buccaneers (10-2-1) rank slightly higher in the power rankings, but have to travel to ‘The Hill’ and accomplish what Valdosta couldn’t
“Everytime we are an underdog we always come away with a victory,” Chini said with a smile. “As long as they keep doubting us we will keep taking ‘dubs’ and that’s what matters.”