LEMONT – Lemont’s football team has its work cut out for it if it’s going to make it 10 consecutive playoff appearances.
The Indians fell to 1-2 with a 28-14 home loss against conference crossover Richards last Friday despite a promising defensive effort.
Coach Eric Michaelsen’s squad now will likely have to go 5-1 the rest of the way to finish 6-3 and secure a playoff spot, though a 4-2 finish would put them on the bubble at 5-4. As he put it, the Indians’ “backs are against the wall.”
Still, he was content with his team’s effort against Richards.
“I was real happy with the effort that the kids gave,” Michaelsen said after the game. “But we’re still making too many mistakes on the field.”
It was the first time in six years Richards (3-0) knocked off Lemont. The Indians defeated the Bulldogs in the second round of last year’s IHSA playoffs, 23-19.
It was Richards’ skill position athletes who proved to be too much for Lemont in last week’s contest, led by quarterback Hasan Muhammad-Rogers and his three touchdowns through the air.
Muhammed-Rogers’ third TD of the night sealed the win with 2:43 left.
With the Indians trailing 20-14 and looking to get the ball back with just over two minutes left, the Bulldogs’ quarterback lofted a pass into the left side of the end zone on a third-and-21 play. Wide receiver Dedrick Shannon made the grab, leaping over two Lemont defenders for the 34-yard touchdown. A two-point conversion gave Richards the two-touchdown lead.
“Their kid out-jumped our kid,” Michaelsen said with a tip of the cap to the opponent. “That’s a really good team, but if we take away our mistakes, I think we’re right there with them.”
Lemont never led the contest but hung around on thanks in part to 11 penalties flagged against Richards and five sacks of Muhammed-Rogers.
Sophomore quarterback Chris Thompson, who took over after halftime of the Indians’ first game, showed some growth in the game but his youth was evident.
“I think he’s doing a really nice job for us,” Michaelsen said. “He’s still learning and he’s going to make mistakes, but he’s also going to make some really nice plays for us, too.”
The Lemont defense was led by senior defensive lineman Andrew Miller with 2½ sacks. Miller was happy with his unit’s effort.
“We’re getting better every week,” Miller said. “It [stinks] to lose but coming out here and playing like that feels better than last week.”
“I feel our backs are against the wall but I am not worried,” Miller said. “It didn’t happen tonight but I feel like we’re building and the young guys are getting better and we’ll get better as we go.”
Lemont kicks off its South Suburban Blue conference schedule tonight at home against Oak Forest.