Skyler Coleman was quick to give credit where credit was due.
One by one, the senior lineman listed off a Richmond defensive crew that put the brakes on Shelbyville — and helped lift the Red Devils into the semifinals of Class 4A’s Sectional 15.
Richmond’s defense didn’t allow a single point and quarterback Justyn Curtis conspired with his receivers to score 14 of them in Friday’s 14-0 shutout of Shelbyville at Lyboult Field.
“Our defense … our defense won this game for us,” Coleman said. “Skyler Storms, Bryson Yates, Korey Creech, Blair Vanlandingham, Nate Trawick, Daniel Ekwealor put up that shutout tonight and got us this victory tonight.”
Coleman could have kept ticking names from a Richmond defense that contained Shelbyville quarterback Jeremy Laker, the Golden Bears’ leading rusher.
Laker finished with 35 yards rushing and 78 passing, but RHS kept him out of the end zone. Coleman, Trawick and Yates were among the Devils keeping the QB under heavy pressure.
“We were just out there flying around, flying to the ball, chasing the quarterback,” Trawick said. “Hard defense.
“We just do a lot of hard slanting, quarterback watch, all of that.”
The Red Devils (8-2) now have to keep an eye on Franklin County, the team that eliminated Richmond from sectional competition last year. RHS will travel next Friday to face the Wildcats at 7 p.m. in Brookville.
The Red Devils will be coming off their eighth straight victory, first playoff win since 2008 and first shutout since defeating Muncie Central 57-0 in 1999.
“This is all could want is a ‘W,'” said Richmond junior Dillan Delucio, who was celebrating a birthday Friday night.
” … This is the best birthday present I could ever ask for. I don’t care if I get anything else.”
Richmond got two first-half touchdowns from Curtis.
The senior QB continued to be the model of efficiency as he completed his first four passes, tossed 220 yards and found Ben Parrish and Jalen Bailey on scoring strikes.
The TD to Parrish came quickly and gave Richmond a 6-0 lead just 12 seconds into the game. One-on-one with his defender, Parrish got free, hauled in the pass and finished a 66-yard jaunt to the end zone.
Curtis also connected with Bailey for a 15-yard TD with 3:01 left in the second quarter. That was set up by a 65-yard completion to Antonio Blackstone and finished off with a 2-point conversion run from Taylor Kidd.
“We showed that we had the confidence to come out and score,” Delucio said. “We talked in the locker room that we have to come out and play physical and smart.”
Richmond intercepted two passes, one by Jailen Hampton and another by Ekwealor.
Ekwealor nearly had a second interception late in the fourth quarter as the junior defensive back appeared to make a one-handed grab while falling backward deep in Richmond territory on fourth down, but the ball skidded loose and incomplete.
“It just popped out when I hit the ground,” Ekwealor said.
” … We were pretty confident at first. We just kept our heads on straight and did what we were taught to do in practice. We just got the momentum from there and it kept rolling.”
Shelbyville finished 4-6.
Richmond has been on a roll, too, not losing since Aug. 24 at home with New Palestine.
“It’s huge that they’re playing together and that they’re playing with confidence and just pulling together as a team,” said RHS coach Matt Holeva. “We keep talking about as long as we play together as a team, we’re going to be tough to beat. Regardless of what happens down the road, I think we’re going to be a tough out for about anybody.”
Richmond faces Franklin County next, a sectional winner over New Castle that lifted the Wildcats to 5-5.
Columbus East and Connersville will square off in the other sectional semifinal.
“We’ve got to go and just play and keep our composure,” Holeva said.