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FOOTBALL: Richmond having a `blast' in BWAC title year

Richmond Devin Skatzka takes the hand off for Richmond. (The Macomb Daily/DAVID S. ANGELL)

Richmond co-head coach James Bishop

Richmond co-head coach John Kocher.

Richmond was about to run the first play from scrimmage when Randy Jarmaga turned to a reporter on the sideline.

“Skinny post,” the Blue Devils assistant football coach said. “Skinny post to Leach. Here it comes.”

Sure enough.

An instant later, Dustin Leach, who had been flanked to the left of quarterback Ryan Boyd, sprinted toward the Yale secondary and cut to his right, in the direction of the goal post, and separated himself from a Bulldogs defender.

Then Leach looked over his right shoulder, gathered in Boyd’s pass and ran untouched to complete a 62-yard touchdown-producing play.

Jarmaga pumped his fist as the Richmond sideline erupted over the Blue Devils’ first scoring play in what turned into a 42-28 victory that secured an outright Blue Water Area Conference championship Friday.

Later, it was suggested to Richmond co-coach John Kocher that Jarmaga, a veteran of many seasons on Macomb County sidelines, looks like he is enjoying being part of the Blue Devils’ success.

“I hope he is,” Kocher said. “I’m having the time of my life. We all are.”

That’s understandable.

Success and Richmond sports teams have hardly been strangers in recent years.

The Blue Devils have made splashes in the BWAC and at the state level in several sports, including softball, boys soccer, wrestling and competitive cheer.

Now the Richmond school district and community have another entity to embrace.

The Blue Devils, who finished 7-0 in the BWAC and are 7-1 overall, are headed to the football playoffs as conference champions.

They’ve won seven games in a row and have equaled the number of victories posted during a playoff-extended 2012 season.

One more win would give Richmond its most victories in a season since the Blue Devils won eight times in 2005.

That was when they were coached by Glenn Nuss, who pulled the program out of the doldrums in the 1990s.

“This thing’s growing legs here,” Kocher said.

Kocher and James Bishop are in their third season together as co-coaches.

When they took over, the Blue Devils were coming off a 1-8 season, which was a low point for a program that had just posted 11 consecutive non-losing seasons, most of them under Nuss.

“We didn’t think (rebuilding) was going to be that tough of a task,” Kocher said.

“These kids are great kids. They have great willpower. They’re easy to coach.”

Richmond’s team takes its cue from seniors like Boyd, Leach, and Jake McKiernan .

But the Blue Devils, Kocher said, have “a great mix.”

“We have a deeper junior class than people realize.”

Kocher played quarterback for Jarmaga when the latter was the coach at Chippewa Valley.

Jarmaga was the Big Reds’ head coach from 1984-88, when CV made the transition from a Macomb Area Conference American Division team to a MAC National club and finally a MAC Red squad.

There were growing pains for the program, and for the league in which it played.

Jarmaga was later part of the Big Reds staff under Mike Carr, and helped Chippewa Valley evolve into a MAC power and state champion.

Now he’s involved with another program that’s on the move.

“It’s awesome to work with him,” Kocher said.

Richmond started the season with a young offensive line that is growing up, Kocher said.

“We’ve gotten better at all 11 positions,” he said.

Richmond lost its first game this season, 42-38 to Marine City, a stout MAC team that didn’t lose until it fell to unbeaten St. Clair in Week 8.

In its second game, Richmond’s task was to play Croswell-Lexington, a recent BWAC power that knocked the Blue Devils out of the state playoffs in 2012.

“I was very concerned we might come out and perform poorly in Week 2,” Kocher said.

Instead, the Blue Devils won 28-21 at Cros-Lex.

“Everything else has kind of taken shape,” Kocher said.

Richmond plays at Lutheran North on Friday in a non-league game to wrap up the regular season.

It remains to be seen whether the Blue Devils look for Leach or do something else on their first possession against the Mustangs.

But it’s a good guess Richmond’s plan will have something to do with Boyd cocking his passing arm.

That’s what Richmond does.

“Plan A was to get the ball in flight,” Kocher said after the Yale game.

The good news for Richmond, and perhaps a disconcerting note for opponents, is that the Blue Devils seem to be cultivating a rushing game to go with their passing attack.

Devin Skatzka, a junior back, ran for three touchdowns against Yale.

Pass or run? Post pattern or sweep?

Find out Friday.

In the meantime, one thing about the Richmond camp is clear:

“We’re all having a blast,” Kocher said.

Last Updated: 10/21/2013 7:35:17 PM EST

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