Richwood closed out its season with a 44-8 road loss to Class 2A powerhouse Ferriday on Friday night.
It was a tough ending to a tough season.
“Ferriday is ranked No. 1 in 2A for a reason,” Richwood coach Marcus Yanez said. “They have some good football players over there. Their coaches do a good job of utilizing their kids’ talents.”
The season started on a promising note with a 26-14 victory over Shreveport Woodlawn, but the Rams dropped their final eight games.
Youth, inexperience, injuries — and eventually the losing — took their toll as the Rams traveled to Ferriday with only 49 players.
“Some guys decided they couldn’t deal with the situation, and decided to move on,” Yanez said. “Some guys couldn’t do the right thing in the classroom. Some guys just weren’t committed to the team.”
As for the 49 who traveled to Concordia Parish on Friday night, they were in it for the long haul.
“It was a learning year for everybody. I appreciate the seniors for their contributions to Richwood over the last four years, and I appreciate the team as a whole,” Yanez said. “The 49 guys we took to Ferriday were committed to prepare for the last 10 weeks. I commend those guys because they could have easily said, ‘I don’t have to deal with this 1-8 stuff.’ They stuck with it, and I am grateful to those guys.”
Hired over the summer, Yanez got off to a late start with the Rams. Now he has a full offseason to put his stamp on the program.
“As soon as the season is over with, I start looking ahead to the next one,” Yanez said. “The guys we have coming back understand the situation, and have bought into the process. Most of these guys understand that it’s a process.”
Of course, the importance of the offseason program is a part of the process that cannot be overstated.
“From an athletic standpoint, I think we’re pretty good,” Yanez said. “We just have to get our offseason strength program to where we need it to be. Our guys absolutely need the weight room.”
Yanez is an advocate of playing multiple sports.
“I’m encouraging our skill guys to play basketball and run track — anything that’s going to build competition,” Yanez said.
Richwood loses only two starters on both sides of the ball — center Chance Gilbert and wide receiver Tyrice James on offense, and linebackers Carldarrius Bethley and J’michael Lenard on defense. Wide receiver/cornerback Lydell Jones, who figured prominently in the team’s plans on both sides of the field, missed the second half of the season with an injury.
“Not to be making excuses, but we started a bunch of sophomores and three freshmen,” Yanez said. “Since there was no JV program last year, we had a bunch of sophomores and juniors who were playing their first year of high school football.”
On the bright side, the Rams will go into next season as a veteran team.
“The good thing is we return 90 percent of our team. The experience is going to be good for us,” Yanez said. “Regardless of the outcomes on Friday night, we are looking at the bigger picture. The guys we have coming back played in nine varsity games against high-quality opponents.
“I don’t think you are going to see the same Richwood team next year.”