Leshon Williams and Sebastian Castro have the speed and open field moves that most college football prospects flash. That’s to be expected. But game film can’t capture the crunching power that Richards’ two stars pack at the end of a run.
Williams can move a pile into the end zone almost all on his own and Castro punishes the first tackler that gets a body on him.
“You can’t be scared of contact, you can’t shy away from that,” Castro, an Iowa recruit, said. “I like contact. Run through people, that is what I try to do.”
Castro scored on a 13-yard run with 2:25 to play and then grabbed the win-sealing interception with 2:08 left. The Bulldogs beat Yorkville 35-21 in the second round of the Class 6A state playoffs on Friday in Oak Lawn.
The game was much closer than most expected. The Bulldogs (11-0) are a No. 1 seed, Yorkville (8-3), a No. 8. Richards had shut out five opponents this season and allowed seven or fewer points in eight games.
“We haven’t been tested in any other games,” Richards senior Walter Riley said. “Now we know that people can score on us and we can adapt to it.”
Richards trailed 14-7 at the half and 21-14 in the third quarter. The most points the Bulldogs had allowed all season was 14 to Oak Lawn.
“The tensions were rising and we were losing,” Castro said.
Williams pulled the pile into the end zone on his two-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and five-yard touchdown run in the fourth that gave the Bulldogs the lead for good.
“When you get that close you have to put it in,” Williams said. “That’s the money ball so you have to take it in. Half of the time I do a lot of the work but I have to give credit to my offensive line. They give me a good push in situations like that.”
Williams had a 77-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. The junior finished with 21 carries for 151 yards and three touchdowns.
“They were a tough team,” Williams said. “We started off slow. We just had to get it together and have each other’s backs.”
Castro, who plays quarterback, running back and defensive back, had 16 carries for 128 yards and one touchdown. He also connected with Riley on a key 39-yard pass in the second half.
Yorkville quarterback Josh Beetham, a junior, was 13-for-26 with two touchdowns and three interceptions. One of the picks was tipped and the other was a desperate heave at the end of the game. He played well overall despite picking up an injury late in the first half.
Nico Medrano had seven receptions for 144 yards and two touchdowns for the Foxes.
Richards will host Normal West, a 26-17 winner over Shepard, in the quarterfinals next weekend.
The Bulldogs have been ranked in the Super 25 for the majority of the season, but most of the talk about the Class 6A title has centered around the Fox Valley powerhouses and Phillips.
“We’ve seen that and it is on our minds,” Riley said. “We are going to show what we have. I’ve seen those teams and they are good, but we can play with them. We have the best coaching staff in the state and they pushed us through this one.”
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- Jahleel Billingsley uses size to his advantage to help Phillips beat Prairie Ridge