Football teams in Tennessee simply do not want to play the Lipscomb Academy Mustangs right now.

“I called everybody,” said LA head coach Trent Dilfer. “Memphis, Middle Tennessee, East Tennessee, West Tennessee, AAA schools, open dates. I heard the same thing: ‘Oh, we have handshakes with everybody else.’ Ended up not coming true. Nobody wanted to play us… We’re having to go out of state.”

Of their six non-region games this season, half of them have been against out-of-state opponents. Their reputation has begun to precede them in Tennessee, and outsourcing has become a norm.

The most recent of the bunch was the Etowah Blue Devils, who made the trek to Nashville from Alabama.

Like the rest of their non-Tennessee peers to visit Lipscomb Academy, they were sent back to the road with a blowout loss — this time a 70-10 drubbing at the hands of the Mustangs.

LA’s offense was literally unstoppable; they scored touchdowns on all 10 of their possessions and collected 493 yards of total offense on just 33 plays — nearly 15 yards per play.

The box score is a who’s-who of talent with eight different Mustangs contributing at least one score. Wide receiver Junior Sherrill caught nine passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Alex Broome tallied 92 all-purpose yards and two scores. Ayden Houston and Mason Reynolds each eclipsed 50 yards with one touchdown. Sam Roush scored twice and Nathan Spillman once. Backup quarterback Hank Brown got involved late, throwing a 33-yard touchdown.

But in the middle of it all was quarterback Luther Richesson. The senior threw and completed 20 passes — a perfect mark — for 314 yards and six touchdowns. Through eight games, he has completed 151 of his 181 attempts — a percentage of over 83.4% — for 1,907 yards and 28 touchdowns. He has zero interceptions.

Incredible as his stats are, they’re just one of the reasons that programs like Michigan State, Cincinnati, Memphis, Vanderbilt, Middle Tennessee State, Central Michigan, Appalachian State and more have opened their doors to the senior. As of now, the competition is “wide open.”

Above all else, his quiet humility shines brighter than his larger-than-life pocket presence and throwing ability.

“The stat line comes from everybody else,” Richesson said. “I’d love to stand here and say that was all me, but I’ve got receivers that can take it all the way. Not to mention receivers who are selfless and blocking for each other. Sam Roush, Beau Dawson. Our point guys, Coleman Baker, Nate Spillman. They’re getting after it… When we do go deep, they’re making the plays and making me look good.”

His spectacular numbers are a direct result of the preparation and drive that his coach insists is better than anybody else he’s ever been around — including NFL Hall of Famers.

“His preparation has been second-to-none,” Dilfer said. “I’ve said it since this offseason. There’s not a player in America, at any level, that has invested more into getting better each week than Luther Richesson. I don’t know where that’s going to take him, but there’s not one.

“I’ve been with Ray Lewis, Shannon Sharpe and John Lynch. I could go Hall of Famer after Hall of Famer. I’ve never seen anybody attack getting better than Luther. And it shows up in his game… His process is flawless. He’s on a mission, and we’re trying to give him the tools to be the best he can be.”

Richesson also has 113 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, along with one catch for 21 yards. He even has two punts for 76 yards.

But at the end of the day, numbers are numbers, and the ones he cares about least are the ones next to his name in stat books. Richesson craves wins, and with a rematch of last year’s DII-AA state championship on deck for next week against CPA, the seven they’ve already gotten this season pale in comparison to the next one — and the one after that, the one after that and so-on.

“I’m just so focused on right here, right now,” Richesson said. “I want to do everything I can to take this team all the way. I got my brothers here, I’m focused on that.”

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