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Devils want their due
August 13, 2012North Central Conference
In his first season as head coach of Richmond football, Matt Holeva wants to see a disciplined team that handles adversity, is fundamentally sound and plays hard.
“I’d like to think we’ll get our share of wins,” said Holeva, who took over the program as head coach in January. “I pride myself on having teams that play to the best of their ability and always try to play better.”
Holeva inherits a squad that finished 4-6 overall, 4-3 in the North Central Conference.
Returning is quarterback Justyn Curtis, who took over under center in Week 4 last season and finished with 1,427 yards and 10 touchdowns. The senior also rushed for three scores.
Possible receiving targets include Jacob Flood, who finished with 42 receptions for 432 yards in 2011, Matt Morrow (30-353), Nathan Flannery (25-342) and Kristian Rodriquez (14-151).
“Justyn has done a great job with us. It’s pretty remarkable ... four different coaches over the last four years, it has to be a tough situation coming in and leanring a new system every year,” Holeva said. “I think he has a great skill set and good leadership quality.
“He’s got a good football mind and he’s absorbing it every day.”
Leading rusher Taylor Kidd returns, coming off a 772-yard, nine-touchdown campaign as a junior. He’ll be joined in the backfield by fullback J.D. Moore.
Brent Weireter at tackle and John Stracener at center will anchor the offensive line.
“We’ll be able to run the ball,” Holeva said. “They are smart kids and they understand the blocking scheme.
“One of the things we want to see out of our guys is being fundamentally sound. You can have all the X’s and O’s you want, but if you can’t block and you can’t tackle and you’re not going to play hard, it’s awfully hard to win football games. Those are the things we’re looking for right off the bat.”
Leading tacklers Skyler Storms and Nate Trawick return, Storms at middle linebacker and Trawick on the defensive line. Storms had 102 total tackles in 2011 and Trawick 100.
Several other key defensive pieces are back, including Blair Vanlandingham (outside linebacker), Skyler Coleman (defensive end), Flannery (safety), Jimmy Bailey (corner back) and Jalen Bailey (corner back).
“I’d like to see our defense step it up,” Storms said. “I’d like to see our offense score.”
Richmond opens Friday at East Central, a team the Red Devils haven’t defeated since 2002.
Holeva was a Richmond assistant coach that season. He spent 15 years with the Red Devils before becoming Centerville’s head coach in 2004.
This also marks the final time Richmond will see East Central in the season opener. The Red Devils’ first opponent since 1997, RHS will face Connersville in next year’s season opener.
“As seniors, we have to keep focus,” Jimmy Bailey said. “We have to keep playing hard.”
Richmond opens the home portion of its schedule Aug. 24 against New Palestine, then hosts Anderson in the NCC opener Aug. 31 at Lyboult Field.
Kokomo went 7-0 in the NCC last season. The Wildkats haven’t dropped a conference game since the 2006 season.
“I think we should compete for the top few positions,” Holeva said. “I think we’re going to be competitive. Kokomo has kind of owned that thing the last few years and I think there is some parity among the other teams. I’d like to think we can compete with anybody on the field, including Kokomo.”
Returning to RHS after eight years away, Holeva brought several ex-Red Devils on to the coaching staff.
“I’m kind of proud to boast that we have seven former Red Devils on staff,” Holeva said. “One of the things I tried to do in compiling the staff was find guys who have a vested interest in the community in Richmond, and who Richmond football means something.
“ ... Things are going well. I think the kids are understanding that there is a new sense of accountability and responsibility. I think that’s infectious. I think the kids are buying in. They’re working hard on and off the field. It’s coming along real well.”
Added Bailey: “We are disciplined and they’re making us work.”
Sports editor Josh Chapin: (765) 973-4463