By Russ Green-Sports Editor
The Richmond Spartans proved how important it is to keep your nose to the grindstone for the entire 48 minutes of a high school football game Friday night. The Spartans – with just three returning starters from last season – gave an early-season statement that they will not go away until the final whistle is blown in this 2013 season. Despite early struggles, the Spartans overcame the heat and fought their way back to leave O’Hara with a 42-36 victory.
The Spartans battled back from a 36-22 halftime deficit and scored the final 20 points of the game as Richmond took advantage of its size – both physically and in numbers – and began to wear down the Celtics.
“We talked all preseason about competing until the game was over,” Richmond coach Rob Bowers said. “I’m proud of them. They just kept plugging and plugging until finally we got a break and took advantage of it and snuck out with a win.”
Richmond scored the go-ahead touchdown after the Spartan defense came up with the only turnover of the game as sophomore tackle Kanon Franklin fell on a fumbled handoff in the O’Hara backfield. The Spartans took over on their own 49, and five plays later quarterback Quinton Maxwell slammed in from 15 yards out for a 42-36 lead with 1:51 remaining in the game. It was Richmond’s first lead since grabbing a 15-14 advantage with 9:35 left in the first half.
The junior signal caller ended the night with a career-high 284 yards rushing on 24 carries with most of those coming in the second half.
“I was getting my reads and getting up behind the tackle and we just ran it well,” Maxwell said. “Our O-line just played a great game – they’re the reason we got it done tonight.”
He added the team never let up despite the setbacks they had throughout the hot evening.
“It was a big statement for us – getting down early and fighting back,” he said. “None of the guys quit. We kept our heads up and pulled for each other and fought for each other. We played as a team and that’s what got it done tonight.”
Senior Brock Stokes scored the game-tying touchdown on a 10-yard run to cap a grinding 10-play, 80-yard drive following a missed 35-yard field goal attempt by the Celtics. Stokes, who ended the night with 113 yards on 19 carries, picked up most of those over the final two periods when he had to move from fullback to tailback after Tommy Wedgeworth left the game with a hand injury.