Tate wins inaugural Miracle Bowl
By By Mac Knefely
Late in the fourth quarter, Tate High football coaches were drenched following a celebratory water-cooler dousing from their players.
It provided an exclamation point on Tate's best season in more than a decade.
With a convincing 41-27 victory over Northview in the inaugural Miracle Bowl at Pete Gindl Stadium, the Aggies (8-3) were satisfied with a strong performance. This was their playoff game.
But Tate coach Ed Rigby said winning the game was secondary. Raising money for underprivileged local children through the Miracle League was by far the No. 1 goal on the list.
"This was fun; all the kids got to play and got to play a lot," Rigby said. "It was great; I hope we accomplished the one major thing we wanted to, and that was to get public awareness of the Miracle League and what they do for our area. I'm proud that we in our community can be a part of that, and a lot of our players and coaches are."
Although they missed regular postseason play, Tate last week won seven games for the first time in 13 years.
Eight wins? ''A lot of math involved'' to figure that out said Rigby, but the Aggies did it.
"Objective number two (Saturday) was to win, of course, because we're playing football," Rigby said. "The kids did a good job there, and Northview didn't go down without a fight. They have a first-class team and a first-class coach (Sid Wheatley).
"We're very happy that they came down to play us. It would've been easy not to, but their kids stepped up to the challenge and stepped up to the plate, which says something about them.
"Lord willing, we'll be in the playoffs next year, but somebody else, hopefully, will help carry the torch in keeping this alive. I just really appreciate the community aspect of it."
Rigby is excited about the program's growth and success this season, but it wasn't easy.
"It's baby steps; Rome was not built in a day," Rigby said. "When we first got the job, we were the worst-ranked team in the state. We had a few goals; to go to the playoffs, and we did that last year.The next thing was to finish ranked in the top ten. We were ranked No. 10 in the final poll Monday in Max Preps. The next thing was to win seven games, because we knew it had been 13 years. And we did that."
Tate pounced early, as the Aggies took advantage on an early turnover by Northview. Senior Qudarius Ford scored the first of his two touchdowns on about a 30-yard run on Tate's first offense play from scrimmage. He also scored through the air as fellow senior Edwin Richburg connected with him on a 60-yard bomb. Richburg found senior tight end Abe Hutcheon to help lead Tate to a 21-0 advantage at the half.
The second half was run by Tate's reserves who got a taste of the special victory.
"We were all pretty excited to come out here and try to raise some money for the Miracle League, and we're thankful that we came out with a win," Ford said. "This feels good; we're kind of mad that we missed the playoffs. This made up for it a little bit, though. Our senior class feels glad that we've helped put Tate back on the map, and the program is going in the right direction. We played well."
Richburg, one of 28 seniors playing for Tate, was proud to be part of a winning season for the first time.
"This is a glory; we came out and finished the season well," Richburg said. "We just came out here to have fun and help the Miracle kids, and show them that we can take home the 'W.'
I think our seniors fought to the end and gave it all they got. This is our last game at home, and this is how everyone will remember us, with a win.”