Time for the Devils’ debut.
Richmond opens its 2014 football season tonight with a 7 p.m. road game at Connersville.
The Red Devils were a 23-7 winner over the Spartans in 2013, the first meeting between the squads since a 1998 playoff game — won by RHS — that saw the rivals combine for more than 130 points.
“The first game of the year is always an exciting thing,” said RHS coach Matt Holeva.
“There’s excitement, and not only because this one counts for real, but also let’s see how we’ve progressed and how we’ve got better throughout the week.”
One key for Richmond: balance on offense.
The Red Devils have been a pass-heavy team the past several years, and they return an experienced quarterback, junior Jordan Christian (1,986 yards, 23 touchdowns in 2013).
Christian has a trio of returning receivers, too. Tyler Ripperger, Brendan Hegg and Auntonio Brown combined for 11 touchdowns and more than 1,000 yards last season.
Christian also connected with Devon Mack for a touchdown in Richmond’s scrimmage last Friday against Pendleton Heights.
“We feel good about our offense,” Christian said.
Parker Holland rushed for 566 yards a year ago, and the Red Devils will look for running back production from both Holland and Ty Williams.
“We’re going to have to be able to run and throw the ball,” Holeva said. “At the scrimmage, we popped some big runs on the run plays.
“I think for us to be the type of offense we want to be, we have to be able to do both, whatever the defense is giving us.”
RHS finished 7-3 last year, repeating as outright champions of the North Central Conference.
Connersville was 2-8. Coach Adam Kelly is back for a third season with the Spartans. He is 9-12 overall.
Holeva also is in his third season leading Richmond. He is 15-6 with the Devils.
Holeva expects to see a strong running game tonight from Connersville.
“It’s at their place. They’re going to be jacked up. They’re going to have a little bit of a chip on their shoulder,” Holeva said. “Not only are we going to have to play well, but we’re going to have to go in and match their intensity.”
Stopping that run game will fall on the shoulders of a Richmond defense anchored by its line.
“I’m definitely excited,” said defensive lineman Nate Trawick, who has verbally committed to play for Division I Miami University. “It’s always the most exciting time. Connersville, they’re down there working. We’re up here working. We’re definitely ready to clash heads. It’s going to be a fun game.”
Added Holeva: “We fully suspect it’s going to be an exciting game. it’s going to be a hostile environment, so let’s have some Red Devil fans make the trip on down and root us on.”
Sports editor Josh Chapin: (765) 973-4463, email@example.com or twitter.com/JoshChapinPI
At a Glance
• What: Richmond at Connersville
• When/where: 7 p.m. today in Connersville
• 2013 records: RHS finished 7-3; Connersville 2-8
• Series: RHS leads 22-3-3
• Last meeting: RHS won 23-7 on Lyboult Field
• Next: RHS plays host Aug. 29 to New Palestine
• Richmond at Connersville
• Monroe Central at Centerville
• Northeastern at Eastern Hancock
• Shenandoah at Hagerstown
• Lincoln at South Decatur
• North Decatur at Union County
• South Adams at Winchester
• Tri High at Union City