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By Russ Green-Sports Editor
Two teams with a few things in common meet Friday night at Tom Adams Field at Spartan Stadium. Both the host Richmond Spartans and visiting Lawson Cardinals are attempting to bounce back from disappointing losses in week No. 1 in the 7 p.m. kickoff and both teams are replacing several starters from last season’s teams.
After making a run to the Class 2 title game in St. Louis last year, the Lawson Cardinals have just one starter returning along the offensive line, along with a returning slot receiver and a tailback. The defense is looking at seven new starters this fall.
The Cardinals fell to two-time defending Class 3 champion Maryville 45-14 on the road, while Richmond dropped a 49-20 decision at home to O’Hara. The Spoofhounds rolled up 490 yards of offense.
“They executed as well in week one as any team I’ve ever seen,” Cardinal coach Todd Dunn said. “They made few mistakes offensively, and we had a lot of new bodies out there. They had somebody on us at every spot. We didn’t have too many free guys on defense.”
With the ground game being limited to 40 yards last week, the Cardinals had to rely on their passing game. Junior Tanner Smith, who saw some action last season as a backup to Garrett Titus, completed 15 of 22 passes for 182 yards, and sophomore Cody Glenn hit five of 12 for 86 yards. Both threw for one touchdown and had one interception each.
“Both of those kids will continue to play until somebody either takes the job or somebody plays themselves out of the job, but I don’t see that happening,” Dunn said. “They both have different skill sets and both of them do different things very well.”
Dunn, who has 149 coaching victories, 134 of them at Lawson, said Smith has a better grasp on the offense because of his experience from last season, while Glenn throws better. However, he adds he has no problem with either one under center.
Richmond coach Rob Bowers said it doesn’t matter what the Lawson offense produced last week, it will still be a good test for his defense.
“We have to be prepared to stop their run and their passing game,” he said. “The quarterbacks they are rotating both threw the ball well and they have some receivers who can catch it. Hopefully we will play better defensively. If we don’t it could be a long evening.”
The Spartans will be keeping an eye on junior receiver Damien Sapp. In last year’s 42-13 win over Richmond, Sapp had two receptions for 48 yards including a 37-yard touchdown, while also returning a punt for a touchdown. Sapp caught seven passes last week for 105 yards and a touchdown.
The Lawson defense returns just one starter from the defensive line (end Mark Hill), along with linebacker Preston Smidt and cornerbacks Sapp and Collin Gagnon.
After being handled in last year’s season opener by Maryville, Lawson used its win over the Spartans in the second week to propel the Cardinals to the Show-Me Bowl. Dunn expects Richmond to be ready.