To see Steve Richardson in action, you would think he was a farmer rather than someone who lives in the nation's third-largest city.
The Mount Carmel defensive tackle looks more like he is tossing bales of hay the way he tosses an opposing running back to the ground. It is not showing off, it is Richardson just doing his job.
A 5-foot-11 junior, Richardson usually stops a running back before he gets to the line of scrimmage. Almost half of his tackles are for losses. He has 14 TFLs for a total of minus-74 yards. On the season, Richardson has 30 tackles.
"I just go out and do my job, and that is to stop the other team," said Richardson, part of a Caravan team (8-1) that faces Brother Rice at 11 a.m. today in a Class 8A first-round playoff game at Gately Stadium. "Nothing fancy. I am expected to to that, do what the coaches show us to do."
Mount Carmel coach Frank Lenti said there are two big reasons for Richardson's success.
"One, his position coach, Mark Antonietti, is very demanding and pushes Steve," Lenti said. "The other is that Steve is an eager learner and he is also willing to do the things to make himself and the team better."
One of Richardson's assets is quickness. He worked on improving his speed, as well as building strength, over the summer.
"I have to get off the ball quick because I do go against some bigger guys," Richardson said. "A lot of it is staying low to the ground, technique, and because I am a little shorter, maybe I have an advantage.
"I also have learned to play smarter, and that is something that is going to help you in the long run."
Lenti said Richardson pushed himself hard to improve.
"He raises the bar and that is what we expect at Mount Carmel," Lenti said. "We expect noting but the best from our players, and Steve has given that."
Richardson also raises the bar in the classroom. He attended Newberry Academy and hopes to work in computer graphics.
"My parents (Steve and Valerie) push school first," Richardson said. "I enjoy the challenges in the classroom, and I just love technology. I am really prooud of my academic achievements and what I have accomplished in football."
Academic success is nothing new for Caravan players. This year, Buster Sheridan, Joe Pavlik and Brian Parker are ranked 1-2-3 in the senior class. Parker is an offensive lineman. Last year, offensive lineman Nick Parker was one of the top 10 of his class and a few years ago, Kevin Kosiewicz, another lineman, was the valedictorian.
Richardson knows to expect a tough game today, even though the Caravan beat Brother Rice 56-7 in the regular season.
"They will come out ready, and we have to be," Richardson said. "We have worked pretty good this year as a team and we have to keep it up."