Class 6A blog: Richmond Hill opens strong in defense of Region 2 title

High school football

Credit: For the AJC

Credit: For the AJC

Richmond Hill won its first region championship in 23 years last season, and it already appears that the Wildcats have no intention of giving it up.

Fifth-ranked Richmond Hill opened the Region 2-6A portion of the season last week with a 42-7 victory over Bradwell Institute to improve to 4-1 for the season.

“This was a very big win for us,” Wildcats coach Matt LeZotte told the Bryan County News. “We did a lot. We did a great job of preparing. We’re seeing the fruits of our labor. We expected to win tonight, and our offense, defense, special teams, coaching all came together for a solid win over a tough opponent.”

Richmond Hill has improved each year since LeZotte’s arrival in 2015, but 2019 was a breakout season for the Wildcats. Richmond Hill won its second region title, first since 1996, and made its first trip to the state semifinals, where it was knocked out by Allatoona 17-14 in overtime. The nine victories were second-best in school history.

The Wildcats were projected to finish second in Region 2-6A this season by the computer Maxwell Ratings, but sit in a tie with Brunswick and Effingham County after one week of region play.

Here’s a closer look at the teams of Region 2 (in order of the current standings):

*Richmond Hill (4-1, 1-0): Region player of the year Jalen Rouse graduated after rushing for 1,742 yards last year, but the Wildcats' new feature back, Ashaud Roberson, is ahead of that pace in 2020. Roberson has run for 733 yards, including a season-best 206 in the victory against Bradwell Institute last week. The Wildcats' only loss this season came against Ware County, the No. 1 team in 5A.

*Brunswick (3-2, 1-0): The Pirates ended a six-game losing streak against rival Glynn Academy with a 24-21 victory last week, establishing the Pirates right off the bat as Richmond Hill’s top threat in the region. The Pirates have played two top-10 opponents this season and lost both, 31-10 to Pierce County (Class 3A) and 21-16 to Benedictine (4A). They will face Richmond Hill on Oct. 30.

*Effingham County (2-3, 1-0): The Rebels went 7-5 and reached the second round of the playoffs in 2018 but slumped to 2-8 last year, missing the playoffs as the fifth-place team out of what was then a five-team region. A 10-0 victory over South Effingham last week was a good start on the road back to the playoffs, but they most likely need to beat Bradwell Institute and Statesboro to get there.

*Statesboro (1-3, 0-0): The Blue Devils return to the second-highest classification after spending the past four seasons in Region 2-5A, where they posted an overall record of just 11-29 but reached the playoffs the past two seasons. Coach Jeff Kaiser inherited a team that went 0-10 before his arrival in 2017 and improved the win total each season, going from 2-78 to 4-7 to 5-5.

*Glynn Academy (2-3, 0-1): The Red Terrors were the runners-up in 2019 after winning the region the previous three seasons. Glynn Academy is almost certain to make its 13th consecutive trips to the playoffs, but the loss to Brunswick raises doubts about whether it will be able to host a first-round playoff game for the sixth straight year. Glynn lost to Coffee and Camden County in non-region play.

*Bradwell Institute (0-3, 0-1): The season was delayed for Bradwell Institute and Liberty County until Sept. 25 because of COVID-19 concerns, and they played each other the first two games, with Liberty winning both. The Tigers made the playoffs three of the past four seasons, including last year with a 2-7 regular-season record, but it will be a tougher road with more teams in the region this year.

*South Effingham (0-4, 0-1): The Mustangs moved up with Statesboro from Region 2-5A. They had a record of 10-33 in four years there but made the playoffs three times, exiting in the first round each time. South Effingham was 6-5 last season under first-year coach Nathan Clark but has struggled this season, being outscored 119-27 by Metter, Appling County, Wayne County and Effingham.


Here is the schedule of Friday’s games in 2-6A, as of Monday night:

Bradwell Institute at Glynn Academy

Brunswick at South Effingham

Statesboro at Richmond Hill

Effingham County off

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