By Mark Schremmer
Globe Sports Writer
It hasn’t taken Clint Rider long to establish himself as a quality head coach in the CNC League. In his second season, Clint has led the Southeast Lancers to a 5-1 record, one of the best starts in recent school history.
However, Clint credits his older brother Derrick with providing the framework for how to be a good coach.
“When I was 6 years old, I remember playing Tecmo Super Bowl, and I was the Bears playing the Dolphins,” Clint said. “I was up by seven in the Super Bowl with two minutes left, and I was throwing the ball to try and score. Well, they intercepted it and ran it back for a touchdown and I ended up losing the game. Derrick was like, ‘You got to run the ball there. What are you doing? You got to run out the clock there.’
“It was my first coaching lesson.”
Well, Derrick has proven to be a pretty good coach to give lessons. Derrick, who played at Pittsburg State, has led the Riverton Rams to winning records in each of the past two seasons and his team enters Kansas Class 3A district competition with a 4-2 record.
The two brothers will meet Friday night in Cherokee for the district clash between the Rams and the Lancers. So beyond family bragging rights, the game will help decide which teams advance to the playoffs.
“The competitive side always comes out,” Derrick said. “You can’t hide away from the fact that you’ve competed against him your whole life. I think the stakes are raised a little bit of knowing it’s a district game.”
Southeast and Riverton belong to one of the most competitive 3A districts in Kansas, as they are joined by the 4-2 Galena Bulldogs and the 4-2 St. Mary’s-Colgan Panthers. Only two teams will go on to the playoffs.
“I can’t say I was thrilled when district assignments came out,” Clint said. “We knew it was going to be a huge challenge, and we think our kids will come out and play well.
“We’re going to have to be ready to play, and our focus is going to have to be at a high level each week.”
Clint hasn’t had many problems getting Southeast prepared this season. The Lancers have notched quality wins over the likes of 4A schools Columbus and Frontenac. Just a year removed from winning only one game, Southeast opened the season with a 3-0 record – something the Lancers hadn’t done since 1992.
Clint, a 2005 Southeast graduate, said the community support has been terrific.
“We’re excited,” he said. “I know the community is excited. You see little things like decorations around the school that maybe you wouldn’t have seen the past.”
The Lancers have been led by their air attack. Quarterback Josh Thompson has passed for 1,202 yards and 11 touchdowns. Dan Peak has been his top receiver with 36 catches for 715 yards and seven touchdowns.
The Rams, led by senior running back Greyson Spriggs, are trying to return to the playoffs after falling short in 2011. Riverton lost to Girard and Columbus but has won its past two games.
“We had a couple of early losses against some very good teams,” Derrick said. “Overall, I feel like the year has gone pretty well. We lost those close games, but our kids rebounded from that. They have come back in the past two weeks, and that’s what we needed to do coming into district play this week.”
Clint and Derrick said no one in the family has been talking a whole lot about Friday’s game.
The matchup of brother against brother is especially difficult for their parents, Steve and Debbie Rider. It will be the second meeting between the brothers as head coaches. Riverton won 62-12 last year.
“My dad doesn’t like to talk about it,” Derrick said. “I talked to him the other night on the phone. He usually calls once a week to ask how the week is going and about the next week. This week there was kind of a dead moment, and he said, ‘Well, you play Southeast this week.’ I could tell he didn’t want to talk about it. I know it’s tough for them either way.”
But for the brothers, competing against each other is nothing new. Living in rural Cherokee County, Derrick and Clint were always battling, whether it was football, basketball or some game they made up.
“We lived out in the middle of nowhere, so there weren’t a lot of options,” Derrick said.
The games often led to fights, sometimes brought on by Derrick’s insistence on being the announcer.
“Derrick was a multifaceted person whenever we would play,” Clint said. “Derrick was the announcer. Derrick was the school that was always supposed to lose, and he also was the referee. I used to even fight with him about his announcing. If he was making a run on me, he would be somebody like Providence when we were playing basketball. And he would announce, ‘And Providence is on an improbable 10-2 run,’ with that Gus Johnson announcing voice.”
Derrick admits that he may not have always been the best referee.
“My dad had an old video that we probably watched three or four years ago where we were playing basketball,” Derrick said. “I was just knocking him over like crazy. I was saying that I had stuffed the basketball, but I was just flat throwing him down. So there were probably some missed calls there.”
Despite Derrick’s NFL replacement ref impression, Clint said his older brother served as a great mentor in sports. Derrick was a senior at Southeast when Clint was a freshman. They both played quarterback in football and point guard in basketball.
“I have a lot of appreciation for the things he taught me,” Clint said. “Derrick was the first person to teach me discipline and dedication coming into my freshman year. It would just be him and me out on the track. Before I was there, it was basically just him out there running by himself. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to have that role model.”
Derrick said he was impressed with how Clint developed as a player and is proud of his success as a coach.
“I remember when he was a sophomore that they struggled early in the season, and they were able to win a couple games and they ended up making the playoffs,” Derrick said. “I could see him mature as a quarterback from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. Then he continued to mature each year. I think they were fortunate enough to make the playoffs all three years.
“It’s exciting to see Clint and them have success this year. I know the community support that’s behind them and the excitement that comes with that.”
Win or lose, the brothers promise not to have any dramatic celebrations or start any fights. Derrick will even keep the announcer voice on mute.
“We’ve gained some maturity over the years,” Derrick said.