Matt Holeva is quick to point to what he expects from Kokomo.
The Richmond coach is counting on a dogfight this Friday.
“Regardless of whatever Kokomo’s record was early on, Kokomo is still Kokomo,” Holeva said. “They are a class organization. They are well-coached. They’ve been a successful team, and they know how to win. We’re going to have to be ready to play.”
The Red Devils will have to be ready to protect their lead in the North Central Conference football race — and to do so on the road. Kickoff in Kokomo is 7:30 p.m.
Richmond is the only unbeaten left in the conference at 3-0. The Red Devils (4-1 overall) are also the NCC’s defending champion.
They are also the team that snapped Kokomo’s 39-game winning streak in the conference with a 26-22 win last year at Lyboult Field.
It took two days to play that game. Kokomo led 22-7 before rain and lightning suspended the game on a Friday night. The Wildkats didn’t score again as play resumed Saturday afternoon at Richmond’s Lyboult Field.
“Obviously last year gave us some confidence. We kind of pulled out all the stops,” Holeva said. “It was a great game. It came down to the end.
“I think we’re confident, but I’m sure Kokomo is confident as well. Stopping the streak, it couldn’t have left a very good taste in their mouth.”
Both teams are on a winning streak this season — RHS at three and Kokomo at two.
The Wildkats (2-3, 1-1) have back-to-back wins over Huntington North and New Castle, and are coming off a 32-6 win last Friday on the Trojans’ home field.
Bo Baker led the Wildkat offense, rushing for nearly 250 yards and four touchdowns.
According to statistics provided by the IHSAA, Baker leads the NCC in rushing with 662 yards.
“Offensively, they are going to run that double-tight, double-wing offense,” Holeva said. “I think when their quarterback got hurt early on, they were trying to do some different things. With him out, they are back to the same old kind of mode of operation. Their linemen try to steamroll you. They have some great running backs with good size who can run between the tackles. They can pop outside if need be.
“We’re going to have to be a sound, fundamental defense and be able to tackle.”
Kokomo lost quarterback Tayler Persons in Week 2 to a season-ending ACL injury. Persons, also a standout basketball player, is a Northern Kentucky recruit in that sport.
While the ‘Kats have the conference’s leading rusher, Richmond has its top passer and receiver. Jordan Christian leads the NCC with 891 passing yards and 10 touchdowns, while Matt Morrow has 21 catches for 417 yards and five touchdowns.
The latest scoring strike from Christian to Morrow was the winning touchdown in Richmond’s 30-26 victory over Muncie Central last week.
“In the end, we made enough plays. Again, our defense stepped up at the end and shut them out,” Morrow said.
” … We have to go against Kokomo, which is going to be a tough opponent, with all the history they’ve had. They are going to be a good team and well-coached.”
After scoring just two points in Week 2, Richmond’s offense has generated 30 points or more in each of its past three games — including scoring 48 against both Anderson and Marion.
The Red Devils will have to adjust to seeing multiple defenses this Friday, Holeva said.
“They jump in and out of probably four or five different defensive sets,” Holeva said of the Wildkats. “We’re going to have to be able to adjust to their defense and figure out their blocking schemes and where the blitz pickups are going to have to be.
“Our linemen are going to have to be on their toes. Hopefully we make some good calls and are able to put a body on people and hopefully score some points.”