Two summers ago, John Richardson stood with his mother, Jill, on the home sideline of the Center Grove football field.
Richardson, an offensive lineman with two years of high school remaining, had an important decision to make while observing one of coach Eric Moore’s practices.
“I went up to Ben Davis. I went up to Carmel. I went everywhere,” said Richardson, who prior to that point had been home-schooled most of his life.
“I wanted to go somewhere where I could start fresh, do my best and be part of a team that was good.”
The more Richardson watched, the more becoming a student-athlete at Center Grove made sense.
A starting right tackle for the Trojans as a junior and senior, the 6-foot-5, 305-pound Richardson, the Trojans’ lone representative at next month’s IFCA North/South All-Star Game, is proud of where his judgment guided him that day.
Center Grove advanced to the Class 6A semistate in 2014 and ran the table last season with a 14-0 record and 6A state championship.
Richardson experienced 23 victories and only four losses.
His senior campaign was spent helping a formidable offensive line open running lanes for two 1,000-yard rushers — Titus McCoy and Jackson Hohlt. Center Grove’s offense averaged 308 yards rushing and 379 overall per game.
Richardson has signed to play football for defending NAIA national champion Marian University.
He will apply his attention to detail academically (Richardson had a 3.67 grade-point average at Center Grove) as an exercise science major.
“John took advantage of every opportunity he had to become a great football player,” Moore said. “He did all the work.
“He’s mature. A fun kid to be with. No matter what happens he’s always up and has a chance to become a really good college football player.”
Raised in Martinsville, Richardson’s academic and athletic background is all over the board.
He was home-schooled through the eighth-grade, attended Martinsville High School as a freshman and fulfilled classroom obligations online as a sophomore.
He sought and eventually found a home.
“I’ve grown up in Martinsville, so there are a lot of people there who I really care about,” Richardson said. “It was mainly the football part, but once I got into the school I was like, ‘This is so different.’
“I just started loving school here.”
Richardson, who became a starter on the Trojans’ line after the fourth game of the 2014 season, reports to All-Star camp on July 9 at the University of Indianapolis.
This summer marks the 50th consecutive summer for the North/South Game with the South All-Stars holding a 27-22 series lead.
Since 2000, Center Grove has placed 22 players in the showcase as members of South squads. On only two occasions — 2005 and 2013 — have the Trojans not had a player taking part.
Though he only spent two years at the school, Richardson is proud to be the one carrying on the Trojans’ tradition before starting his college career.
Reminded of the yearly helmet decal exchange that goes on between All-Star players during the six days leading up, Richardson laughs knowing he has yet to load up on red ‘7’s (he wore No. 77 at Center Grove).
“It’s definitely going to be a really nice experience from the whole-week aspect because I honestly didn’t know we were going to be away the whole week,” Richardson said. “I thought we would drive up every day, practice and come home.
“Getting to stay with people and meet new people is pretty cool. The fact this is the 50th (All-Star) game is cool, too.”
THE RICHARDSON FILE
Name: John Richardson
Family: Mother, Jill Richardson; sister, Jessica, 16
Favorite TV show: “Psych”
Favorite food: Cheeseburgers
Favorite movie: “Saving Private Ryan”
Favorite athlete: J.J. Watt
Favorite team: Oakland Raiders