Thursday, November 29, 2007

Orrick coach: Former Bearcats played a role

Orrick coach: Former Bearcats played a role
The Kansas City Star

As Orrick coach Pat Richard sat there last Saturday in St. Louis, in quiet reflection of the first state football championship of his career and the school’s first in 32 years, he couldn’t help but think about previous players and the roles they played.

“I think of a guy like Elliott Rice, who helps out with our team now,” Richard said after the Bearcats’ 20-8 victory over Thayer for the Missouri Class 1 state title. “He was on our team my first year, eight years ago.

“This team was 1-29 when we took over. That first season eight years ago, we won three games, and we thought it was the greatest thing.”

Eight seasons after that three-win season, Orrick won all 14 of its games.

“I coached all those guys eight years ago, and now I feel I can look them in the eyes,” Richard said. “I kept telling them we were building this program to where we could go win state championships, and we did that.

“This is a lot because of them. They were a big part of it.”

The 2007 Bearcats won their title much the same way their teams have played on the way up -- with a strong, physical style centered around the running game and defense.

Despite playing what Richard called “mentally, probably the worst half we’d played all season” in the first half, the Bearcats were able to reach halftime in an 8-8 tie because of their stifling defense.

In the second half, Orrick’s conditioning kicked in, and they “came out and physically seized it,” according to Richard. The wearing down of the Thayer defense led to two breakaway touchdown runs by the team’s leader, Taylor Eubank, and allowed the Bearcats to pull away.

“Every time someone got down, someone else helped pick them up,” said Eubank, who led Orrick with 211 yards rushing, 241 total yards. He also blocked a punt, leading to the Bearcats’ first touchdown.

“It was a complete team effort, Eubank said.

The Kansas City Star

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