Shrine children, loss in title game fuel Kaemen Richards

Kaemen Richards is haunted by one play.

After the first West side practice for the Montana East-West Shrine Game Saturday afternoon on Montana Tech’s Bob Green Field, the former Butte Central Maroon pointed to the exact spot where the Dillon Beavers converted a 2-pont conversion to win the Class A State Championship Game 29-28 last November.

“Marcus (Ferriter) had the quarterback right here,” Richards says of his Maroon teammate. “Satch thought he sacked him. He tackled him, but J.D. (Ferris) just threw it up in the air. Our corner just barely missed, and that kid (Nate Simkins) caught it.”

There was still 2 minutes, 30 seconds left for the Maroons, and BC quarterback Danny Peoples completed a pass across midfield as the Maroons looked to set up a game-winning score.

Simkins, though, punched the ball out of the BC receiver’s hands and up into the air. It fell right into the waiting arms of Dillon’s Justin Ferris to end the game.

“Everything went right for them and wrong for us,” Richards says. “That’s just how it goes.”

Unfortunately for Richards, he really can’t let it go that easily. Nearly eight months later, that loss still stings. A lot.

“Sometimes I will be sitting in the shower and it will be like, ‘God, I wish we would have got that,’” Richards says. “I’m sure I’ll maybe get over it in a while, but maybe I might not. I’ve got to put it aside at some point. But I want win the rest of my games from now on.”

That’s where the Shine Game comes in. Richards is one of four Butte Central players – Peoples, Ferriter and Chad Peterson are the others – playing in the Shrine Game. Butte High’s Dalton Daum and Clay Dean will also represent the Mining City in the game, which is next Saturday in Great Falls.

“I want to win the rest of my games after that one loss,” says Richards, who was practicing with a Dillon “Beavs” sticker on his helmet Saturday. “It was a little hard putting it on, but I just want to get over it. Maybe it will help me.”

Richards will play inside linebacker for the West team.

“I’ve always played that my whole life,” he says. “I always liked being right in the middle of things.”

Playing in the middle, Richards earned All-State honors as a linebacker last season. He was also a first-team All-Conference full back. He was a bruising runner who got a lot-of goal line and short-yardage carries for the Maroons.

“I tried as hard as I could when I got the ball,” Richards says of his hard-nosed style.

He’d like to show off that running style next week in Great Falls.

Richards pucks up yardage in the semifinals last season in Whitefish.

Richards pucks up yardage in the semifinals last season in Whitefish.

“Danny was telling me that Don (head coach Don Peoples Jr.) might have me play because they need a cruiser on some plays,” Richards says. “I play cruiser for us and he’s just going to let me do that.”

If easing a painful memory wasn’t enough to inspire Richards in the Shrine Game, enter Tucker Thatcher and Sudha Davis.

The two young Butte athletes are patients at the Shriners Hospital for Children. They addressed the West team to reinforce to the players what the game is all about – raising money for the hospital.

“Tucker and Sudah came and talked to us earlier today,” Richards says. “It’s really emotional. People don’t realize it at first, but once you realize what you’re playing for all you want to do is help those people out.”

If nothing else, it made the thought of giving up more than a week of the summer for a football game well worth it.

“It’s totally fine to work hard for those people and raise money for them,” Richards says. “I’d take more than nine days if I had to.”

Next month, Richards will go back to work when he reports to preseason camp for the Montana Western Bulldogs.

In December, the 6-foot-1, 220-pound Richards signed with Coach B.J. Robertson’s Bulldogs after he received little attention from the bigger schools.

Of course, if he was tall as his 6-7 brother Aschan, who signed with the Montana Grizzlies after his BC career, it would be a different story. Kaemen Richards, though, doesn’t seem to mind. He’s happy with where he signed.

“I think Western is a perfect fit for me,” Richards says. “I love everything about it. The coaches are great. And just all the kids, I really liked them.”

Richards will likely play linebacker for the Bulldogs. He is also hoping for a chance to carry the ball on offense occasionally, too.

“He said we’ll see how it goes,” Richards says. “(Coach Robertson) is leaning more toward linebacker, but if I can run the ball I’ll do that, too.

“I love offense,” Richards adds. “But defense always just seems like that’s the No. 1 thing I’m all about.”

Richards says the pieces appear to be in place for the Bulldogs to make a run at the national championship during his career. One of those pieces is the quarterback in the play that has haunted Richards for the last eight months.

Ferris will battle for the starting spot for the Bulldogs as a true freshman.

“I really think we could (win a national title) down there,” Richards says.

That would certainly ease Richards’ pain from the loss in the championship game. It won’t make him forget it, however. He doesn’t want to.

“That was the best experience I ever had,” Richards says of the title game. “It was amazing. I will never forget that game.”

Note: ButteSports.com will profile all six players representing the Mining City in the July 18 Montana East-West Shrine Game in Great Falls. Other players from Butte are Danny Peoples, Chad Peterson and Marcus Ferriter of Butte Central and Dalton Daum and Clay Dean of Butte High. 7 comments

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