After being promoted from JV last season when a rash of injuries hit the Rancho Buena Vista High varsity football team, Dorian Richardson quickly discovered the ups and downs of the transition.
The 5-foot-7, 195-pound sophomore running back had 15 carries for 83 yards and a touchdown in his varsity debut, a 28-14 loss to Valley Center.
In his second game, a 49-7 loss to Ramona, Richardson tried to pick up a blitzing linebacker. His block did not end well.
“I was blocking backside and I had my head down,” Richardson remembered. “The guy cleaned my clock.
“Man, that was the first time I really got nailed.”
So for his first full varsity season with the Longhorns in 2017, Richardson made a concerted effort to get stronger — a lot stronger.
After rushing 38 times for 187 yards and two TDs during a 3-8 season last year, he’s leading the team this fall with 143 carries for 1,019 yards and 10 TDs in a 4-1 start to the season.
“I knew I wasn’t ready for varsity when last year started,” said Richardson, who attracted lots of attention with 40 TDs on the freshman team in 2015. “Coming into this season I knew it was going to get more physical.
“I had to get ready for that.”
Richardson got word that he might be getting called up to the varsity before last year’s game against San Clemente, which wound up being a 64-0 loss.
His promotion was delayed a week.
“I couldn’t sleep wondering if I was going to get called up,” Richardson said. “When it came I knew it was my time.
“I was pretty nervous that Friday. The first time I got hit I found out I was OK. I found out varsity guys hit a lot harder than JV guys.”
Living down the street from head coach Joe Meyer, Richardson rode home from practice the last two years with Meyer and his son Scott, a quarterback.
When Scott got his driver’s license and a car this year, the car pool was reduced to just the coach and the running back.
“Everyone wants to know what we talk about in the car,” Meyer said. “Actually, we try not to talk about football or the team.”
Richardson followed his brother into the sport, starting at age 8 in a flag football league.
While his brother became interested in computers, Richardson has a love for the game that continues to grow.
Now he watches any football he can find on television. College or NFL, he doesn’t care.
“I’ve got a passion for the sport because my goal is to make it to the NFL,” Richardson said. “I know how long the odds are for making it to the NFL.
“Ever since I was in Pop Warner, I’ve played at a higher level. I am not afraid of the work that this will take.”
Meyer is convinced Richardson has a future at the next level.
“His leg drive is what makes him tough,” Meyer said. “Guys hit his lower body and just bounce off.
“He doesn’t have blinding speed, but he’s fast enough to run away from defenders or break any arm tackle.
“When he gets the ball, he’s got enough speed to get up and go.”
The Longhorns’ fast start this season is the team’s best since going 4-1 back in 2007.
“We know where the program has been,” Richardson said of RBV, which has been 1-9 three times and 0-10 once in the last decade. “Our saying this year is, ‘It’s a new era.’
“This feels really great. I think we know what we’re capable of this year because we know we can move the ball, and that wasn’t really the case last year.”
Led by Richardson, it may well be the case in 2017.
Monahan is a freelance writer.
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