After an impressive showing both offensively and defensively last week at Holden, the Richmond Spartans look to settle the score with Savannah Friday night. The Savages will bring a 2-0 mark into Spartan Stadium after a 37-7 win at Excelsior Springs as they cashed in three Tiger turnovers into touchdowns.
The Spartans know that they will have to keep a tight grip on the football if they hope of having any success against the 10th-ranked Class 3 team. All they have to do is to look back to last year’s trip to Savannah where – thanks to a steady downpour before the game, and rain throughout most of the night – Richmond gave the ball back five times on 11 fumbles in a 28-6 loss on a sloppy track.
“That’s always the key,” Spartan Coach Rob Bowers said. “Last year we really didn’t give ourselves a chance to compete with all those turnovers. You’re not going to win many games putting the ball on the ground 11 times. It makes it impossible.”
Richmond also drew 10 penalties in the game.
Still, despite those miscues, Richmond stayed in the game, but two late Savannah scores off of Spartan turnovers helped the home team pull away.
The Richmond defense, which came within seconds of pulling off its first shutout in four years last week, will face a Savannah offense that is a bit more balanced than last season’s pass heavy attack.
Last year Savannah relied on the throwing arm of Travis Partridge, who is now at Missouri Western. Justin Roach is now under center for coach Mark Cole’s squad.
Through the first two games this year, Roach has completed 17 of his 32 attempts for 203 yards, 3 touchdowns and 3 interceptions.
“He throws the ball pretty well,” Bowers said. “Last year, Coach Cole had Partridge throw it more than I think he would really have liked, but this year they are much more in line with what Coach Cole likes to do. They run a lot of play-action and quick passing game. They throw enough to keep you off balance.”
Leading the ground game is Darin Trautman who has just over 200 yards rushing in the first two games, while scoring 3 touchdowns. In last week’s win at Excelsior Springs, four different running backs gained at least 40 yards.
Although most of the backfield is fairly new, the offensive line returns four starters from last season, although they are having to replace 6-4, 240-pound Josh Ferge, a second-team, all-state selection.
Bowers said the Savannah interior is big and quick off the line and is hoping his defensive unit repeats last Friday night’s effort.
“What I liked is that we ran to the football and hit real well when we got there,” he said. “We got a lot of people to the ball and just played like I thought we could play. The first week, we were pretty disappointed in that, and challenged the kids. They came back and played great all night long.”
Bowers hopes his team can continue what they started last week.
“We can’t play less than 100 percent and do what we want to do,” he said. “Against Holden, when we came out to play, we were a pretty good football team. We want to keep that feeling going and hopefully we can continue that and get on a little roll.”