Talented Richards Squad Set for Playoffs

Oak Lawn Richards (Ill.) currently stands at 6-1, with their only loss a narrow one by two points. The Bulldogs are going to be a tough matchup in the playoffs, and Fox Sports NEXT had a chance to stop by and meet some of their talented players recently.

After their 44-8 win over Palos Heights Shepard on Friday, Oak Lawn Richards is ready to close out the regular season and get to playoff play.

The Bulldogs' most visible player is junior Tommy Mister (see a full interview here), who has several scholarship offers and is one of the top recruits for his class in the state. However, there is more talent where that came from. Meet some of the other standouts the school has to offer.

Kupcikevicius Has Two

Senior offensive tackle Joe Kupcikevicius is tough, rugged, and one of the leaders of this team. At 6'4, 270-lbs, he has good size, and has been making sure he keeps his team focused on the task at hand.

"So far, I'm just developing myself as a leader, getting my guys prepared, trying to finish the season as strong as possible. I just think we have to start dominating the rest of the schedule so we can get the confidence we need, get comfortable, get our quarterback comfortable in the pocket. He's young, so we need to make him as comfortable as possible."

Along the way, he has picked up two scholarship offers, and other schools may be ready to jump in as well.

"The same schools have been consistent. I have offers from North Dakota and South Dakota. I have not visited yet, but I plan to. Miami (Ohio) seems interested. I talk to the Northern Illinois coaches and they're trying to get me out to games, but it just doesn't fit the schedule."

Kupcikevicius plays right tackle, but says he'd feel comfortable playing anywhere on the line in college. When asked to give a scouting report on himself, he pointed to the effort and tenacity his coaches applaud him for.

"I'm a physical kid. Most of the time, I'm the biggest kid on the field, so I think I stand out already and every play I'm going all out, so I think that's a good thing. There are some things I have to work on, maybe staying a little lower, but other than that, I think I'm looking pretty good."

Carpenter Emerging Quickly

Junior receiver Tacari Carpenter has been one of the new faces on the varsity who has really stepped up and made a difference this season.

"It feels great. I like all the hype and everything. It wasn't like this on the sophomore team. You have to get used to the speed. The speed isn't the same."

Having guys like Mister and Kupcikevicius, who have played varsity before, to look to, has helped Carpenter make the transition.

"They're more experienced. They're here to teach me on all the plays I mess up and help me out."

Carpenter is just beginning to hear from colleges, and one MAC program in particular, has caught his eye.

"I've heard from Ball State, and I can't remember them all. I have not visited anywhere yet, but I'll probably go to Ball State, to one of their games."

Increased Comfort For Hill

After playing varsity as a sophomore last year, 6'0, 196-lb outside linebacker Romel Hill has taken his game to another level this season as he uses his experience from last year.

"I'm doing pretty good. I missed one game, but we're doing well. I'm doing good myself. I played varsity last year, but I feel a lot better because I'm more experienced now and I grew up a lot. I'm a lot stronger now."

Colleges have noticed, and Hill is one of the players who really keeps the mailman busy at Richards.

"I'm getting a lot of mail. Most of them are from Iowa, and Indiana. I have gotten a lot of tickets. Ball State, Purdue, Indiana, Iowa, I think that's about it. Cincinnati sent me one too. I'll probably visit Indiana and Ball State.

Hill is unsure of a major, but is looking towards engineering. When asked what he wants in a college, he said, "A good atmosphere and a big crowd."

His friend and teammate Tommy Mister being there is not a must, but it is a possibility, as the two have talked about playing together in college.

"Yeah, we have talked about it, but we don't know yet."

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