Richmond Academy's homecoming parade lurched onto Walton Way on Wednesday afternoon, halting traffic in one direction. The band marched down the hill, and the football team whopped and hollered from the bed of a flatbed truck.
The Musketeers might not have celebrated this much since they slugged Lakeside 30-0 last season. That win ended up giving the Musketeers their first playoff berth in 10 years when the teams finished with identical 6-3 Region 3-AAAA records.
Richmond Academy will try and repeat that part of its past Friday night against Lakeside in its homecoming game, though it figures to be a bit tougher this season. The teams are a combined 8-2 and have lost one region game between them.
"No one was giving us respect until we beat Lakeside (last year)," Richmond Academy coach Chris Hughes said. "Here we are again at a game that has big playoff implications already."
Richmond Academy, in the past two seasons, has shut out four opponents: Butler, Josey, Harlem and Lakeside. Butler, Harlem and Josey are a combined 6-39 in that stretch; Lakeside, conversely, is 11-4 and was ranked as one of the 10 best teams in Class AAAA as recently as last week.
"It doesn't make a lot of sense, does it?," Hughes said. "Who knows? I don't know how to explain it. I was worried they were going to blow us out. It was the best game we played all year defensively."
Richmond Academy last season returned an interception for a touchdown and shut down the Panthers' potent passing attack. Only North Augusta has thrown a touchdown pass against the Musketeers this season.
"Last year was a big game for all of us; we knew they had a pretty good team and we just wanted to take care of business and we did," Richmond Academy senior Evans Dansby said. "We will be ready, ready to execute again."
While Lakeside's defense, which has yet to allow a sustained scoring drive, and Richmond Academy's offense, averaging 31.5 points per region game, are the strengths of the teams, the battle between the other units could tilt the game one way.
"We are better defensively than we were last year," Hughes said. "We still make mistakes, still miss tackles. ... Our thing offensively and defensively is (limiting penalties). I would be surprised if anyone in Augusta area has more penalties than us."
Reach Matt Middleton at (706) 823-3425 or firstname.lastname@example.org.