I had a chance to get caught up with Richards head football coach Tony Sheehan after he led his team to a 12-2 record and a Class 6A state title appearance. We recapped 2013 and also looked ahead towards what the Bulldogs will face in the upcoming season.
EDGYTIM: I know that the 2013 season was a heck of a ride. Despite the ending I have to imagine that you had to be happy overall about 2013?
Sheehan: Yeah it was a great season. Obviously on that day (Class 6A state finals) it didn't work out the way we wanted. They (Batavia) just outplayed us and sometimes it's just not your day. We were a little beat up that day and really the last few weeks. Looking back we might of had some guys who probably shouldn't of been out there but they were not gonna miss the state championship. I'm not making any excuses and Batavia played very well and they simply beat us. It was a great run. To go down to East St. Louis (Class 6A semifinals) and to get a victory was amazing and not too many people can do that. The Lincoln-Way North game was just an outstanding football game and the weather conditions for that game were just horrendous. You are trying to play for the wind and the rain and to pull that win out in double overtime was awesome. We lose a lot of emotional leaders but we also bring a lot of guys back for next year as well. We are definitely happy about 2013 and looking forward to 2014.
EDGYTIM: You have some nice pieces coming back for 2014 especially on offense. Give us an early preview.
Sheehan: We're gonna have 13 starters back which is good. We have to replace some big names on defense. Guys like Romel (Hill) and Andrew (Venerable) at linebacker along with Savon (Robinson) and all three were year starters for us along with (Dylan) Jiles and some other kids on the defensive line. But we also had a lot of kids who stepped up this past season and that will help. Ramonta (Hill) moved to linebacker last year and that was a huge help to us. He will take a leadership role on the defense and he will do a great job. We have three defensive backs returning and we had some juniors who also mixed in well last year. The sophomore class wasn't bad and we know we have some kids who can step up. The freshman class we are really excited about. This might be best group since the Hill and Venerable group. We might have a few of those guys up with us next year. We brought a few of those kids up in the playoffs and they stuck their nose right in there. Some of them got on special teams as a freshman. Offensively we've got to replace some linemen which is always a big thing. We had a few sophomores who stepped up and played well and we will need them to do that again. Skill wise we're loaded. We have Hasan (Muhammed-Rogers) back, Romeo (Johnson) at running back who just got better as the year went on. (Spencer) Tears and (Ryan) Willett at receiver are back along with (Deidrick) Shannon on the outside. We are looking for a big year out of those guys and they played 14 games in 2013 which is huge.
EDGYTIM: How motivational has the loss to Batavia in the state finals been so far this winter?
Sheehan: So far it's been huge. I'd say right now we've had our best numbers in the weight room in a few years now. We have always been pretty good in the offseason but this winter has been great numbers wise. The guys who will be seniors next year are telling the younger guys, "this is what it takes to get back. It just doesn't happen you need to work hard." We got there and the taste is in their mouths now. They want it and you can tell.