Friday, December 10, 2010
My sitdown with former Washington Husky and Kelso Hilander David Richie
The other day I had a nice football related talk at the local Starbucks here in my hometown. This wasn't your normal football talk about Washington Husky football as this conversation involved somebody who has actually worn the purple and gold. This guy had also went to a Rose Bowl, won a Super Bowl and even won an XFL championship. This football chat was with hometown legend David Richie who played for the Huskies from 1992-1996 where he was honorable mention all Pac-10 in 1995 and second team all Pac-10 in 1996. In this following story I'll talk about Richie's playing career at Washington, how he owes everything to a single coach who he still respects very much, and his current coaching job at a High School in Portland, Oregon.
When Richie was growing up he came from a small city in Southwest Washington which was Kelso High School. He played for the Hilanders from 1989-1991 while at Kelso he dominated as a three sport athlete who played football, basketball and did track. Richie due to his athletic ability and size was getting some looks from colleges. In particular he was being recruited by a school that was in the process of winning back to back Rose Bowls and a National Championship in 1991.
"I remember taking an amtrack train up there from 1989-91'. People locally would make sure I would get on that train. I missed a total of two homes games at Husky Stadium in those three years. Sometimes I'd crash on Steve Emtmans couch, it was a blast going to those games," recalled Richie.
Richie came to Washington primarily because of one coach. No the coach wasn't Don James although Richie has the upmost respect for James. Instead Richie came to Washington because of long time defensive line coach and current Stanford defensive line coach Randy Hart.
"Randy Hart is the greatest man I've ever known. I have known Randy for the last 22 years(since I was 15 years old). He was hard on you but he knew how to coach you up and bring the best out of you. He was a great father figure to those like myself who grew up in a single mother household," says Richie.
"Randy taught us everything from how to be a good husband to how to be a good father. He always stressed about staying on the right path and never going off that path. If you went off the path Randy would put you back on the right path real quick. He had a system going of succession from John Cook to Travis Richardson to Steve Emtman to Tyrone Rodgers to D'Marco Farr to Deke Devers then to myself. That is how it was back then everyone fell in place and was ready to take over when it was their time," as Richie remembers fondly.
As the years go by Richie has still stayed in touch with Randy Hart. When I asked him where he would go today if he was in high school he smiled and said Stanford. He said he would go wherever Hart was at. After Richie went on a recruiting trip to the University of Oregon that night he immediately called up Hart at 9:30 p.m. and told him he was going to Washington because of Hart.
Thankfully for the Huskies back then Hart was still their coach as the "redneck" from the little town of Kelso, Washington would become a household name while at the University of Washington. While redshirting at Washington Richie got to play under one of college football's legendary head coaches in Don James.
He also recalls one practice when he felt that he finally "arrived". "I was going through one of those rough stretches that every freshman goes through. I was having a bad week and it was USC week so that was always big. I remember one play I blew up fullback Leif Johnson, then very next play blew up fullback Matt Jones and on the following play I blew up fullback Darius Turner. That is when I heard whistles blowing and Don James screaming "will somebody block that #97!". That was a great feeling getting recognition from James all the way up in the tower," recalls Richie.
Unfortunately for Richie and the rest of his teammates playing under James wouldn't last very long. On August of 1993 college football would be rocked around the nation. The Washington Huskies were given a two year bowl ban and then head coach Don James resigned that day. Defensive coordinator Jim Lambright would take over as head coach.
"I remember when he would have you sit on his couch for his meetings, I had six of those in fact. He had me diagnosed with my mental disabilities, ADHD and dyslexia, got me tutors and made school life much easier to manage. DJ was a great man and I personally felt like all that work went down the drain and a little why did you leave us?" recalls David. "P.A. Emerson stood up first and threw his keys on the ground and that's when things went to hell in a hand basket. His last words were (talking through tears) "I am handing you over to Jim Lambright I am so sorry" and we watched him walk out the door with tears in his eyes.
BOOM!"- Richie remembers sadly.
The transition was rough but fortunately for Richie his defensive coordinator in Lambright was now the head coach and his defensive line coach Randy Hart was his defensive coordinator. In 1993 and 1994 Richie primarily played special teams but in 1995 he got his big break. He was going to start for the Huskies in the 1995 season at defensive tackle. As he said before this was finally his turn.
During the 1995 season Richie led the Huskies in sacks and scored his only career touchdown down at Arizona on a 32 yard fumble recovery. He was honorable mention all Pac-10 that year on the Huskies who finished tied for first place in the Pac-10. Richie also won John P. Angel award which is rewarded to the top offensive lineman and defensive lineman. Andy Mason from Mark Morris High School won that award in 1992 as did other greats like Steve Emtman in 1991, Reggie Rogers in 1985 and 1986, Ron Holmes in 1984 and plenty of other greats. Unfortunately for Richie his season was cut short as he was hurt in the 33-30 win over the Cougars in the Apple Cup. He also had to miss the 38-18 loss to the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Sun Bowl.
During his Senior campaign Richie started the year off with a bang. In the home opener and second game of the season him and Jason Chorak chased BYU quarterback Steve Sarkisian around all game long. Sarkisian was hyped up going into the game and would end the season 14-1 but on that day by those two was sacked and hit early and often. The Huskies would win 29-17 led by the great defensive performance of Richie and Chorak. Chorak would finish with three sacks while Richie would have two sacks on the day.
Later in the 1996 season Richie and the defense would beat the USC Trojans down in the L.A. Coliseum 21-10. The win was huge because it was the first time ever that a USC team had been held to negative rushing yardage. That defense that year went five straight games of holding opponents to 14 points or less going into the Apple Cup. The Huskies who would blow a 24-0 lead would hang on to win 31-24 in overtime. Richie had 11 tackles that day and three sacks while being Pac-10 defensive player of the week. Richie would end his Senior season as second team all Pac-10 defensive tackle and once again winning the John P. Angel award. Richie was the first Husky to win that award back to back years since Travis Richardson did in 1988 and 1989. His teammate Jason Chorak was Pac-10 defensive player of the year.
After dealing with the frustrations of not being drafted Richie would find himself on the Denver Broncos. He recalls as a rookie when Neil Smith picked him and gave him a ride to practice. Six years earlier he was walking the halls of Kelso High School to now he was getting lifts to practice from Neil Smith. Later that year the Denver Broncos won the Super Bowl over the Green Bay Packers 31-24. Richie just like in college where he tasted a Rose Bowl his first season would win a Super Bowl his first year in the NFL. From Kelso to University of Washington all the way to the White House.
Richie would bounce around the league which saw him play for the San Francisco 49ers where in a preseason game against the Seahawks he had the best game of his life he describe. He had 11 tackles, four tackles for lost, two sacks, six quarterback hurries and he also picked off former teammate Brock Huard and ran back a touchdown for the game winning touchdown. He also played for the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Green Bay Packers. He ended his career playing for the L.A.Xtreme during the 2001 season and won an XFL championship which featured Tommy Maddox. Unfortunately due to injuries on his neck he couldn't play no longer. He had a nice deal on the table from the New York Jets as well.
Now David is coaching High School football. He began coaching his old High School Kelso in 2002 which beat my R.A.Long Lumberjacks 35-28 in overtime. Thankfully he didn't rub that one in on me. He then moved on to helping University of Washington football players to now coaching at Central Catholic High School in Portland, Oregon.
Under the head coach of Steve Pyne, Richie is teamed up with Toots Kahauni in building the culture up in this program. Central Catholic High School has dominated league play the past decade but can't seem to get over that second round hump. Both Richie and Kahauni coach the defensive line on varsity and on J.V. His defensive line features Alex Balducci who is a defensive end and is also a three star recruit which Washington and other Northwest schools is looking at along with Randy Hart and Stanford. Another defensive lineman he has is Jacob Nall who was the leagues defensive player of the year. Nall isn't ranked yet but by this time next year you'll see his name on rankings. Like Balducci Washington and other Northwest schools along with Hart are also looking at. He also features a strong nose guard Tyler Nagee who figures to have a big year next season.
The Central Catholic Rams won the league title in varisty, J.V. and freshman football. They finished the year 8-3 but due to some injuries lost in the second round. The Rams will return plenty of good players as most likely they'll have 12 all-league calibar players back, only losing three Senior starters on defense and five overall. The defense they run is the "Grizzly" which is a 5-3-3 defense. What makes their defense unique is that you have two defensive ends, one nose guard and your two other defensive tackles stand up something that you would see Bill Bellicheck and the Patriots use.
Whether it's coaching football or living life David is using the Randy Hart philosphy. He hopes to spread the great coaching he received from James, Lambright and Hart down to his current group of High School kids. Richie has came a long ways from being the hick in a hick town like Kelso. He has been to a Rose Bowl, won a Super Bowl, won an XFL championship and now he is helping kids reach the next level like he did. Overall it was nice catching up with a good Husky like David Richie. This will be the first of many football chats I have with him. I wish David plenty of success down the road.