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Richfield regroups after tragedy

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Richfield coach Seth Giddings has never faced a coaching challenge like the one awaiting him Friday night.

Just one day after attending the funeral of defensive back Kade Winkle, 17, and two days after attending the funeral of star running back Tyson Ogden, 17, Giddings must find a way to motivate a bunch of heavy-hearted teenagers for their season-opening football game against rival Manti.

"It puts life into perspective and really makes family and friends seem like what life is all about," said Giddings.

To a teenage football player, opening night is supposed to be one of the most important days of the year. In Richfield, it just doesn't seem to matter as much anymore.

Winkle and Ogden both died Saturday when the car they were riding in the backseat of was broadsided by a semitrailer-truck. The car was traveling south on State Road 50 east of Scipio. The accident occurred when the driver tried passing another vehicle but lost control of the 1995 Ford Taurus and slid sideways into oncoming traffic.

Jake Robinson, 17, and Luke Johnson, 16, were riding in the front seat and both survived the crash.

Shortly after hearing the news of the accident, which happened to occur on Giddings' birthday, the Richfield coach wondered if they should cancel the season opener. He left that decision up to the Ogden and Winkle family and both insisted the team keep practicing and preparing for the season opener.

"They both said 'Kade and Tyson would be (upset) if we didn't play,' " said Giddings.

Even though the team honored the request, it hasn't been an easy week of practice by any means. Giddings says he's shared a lot of tears with his players and assistant coaches. He expects it to continue throughout the season and particularly on Friday.

"I don't know what to expect from the boys, we might come out fired up or we might be absolutely physically drained," said Giddings.

Manti coach Cole Meacham asked Giddings if his school could have a moment of silence for Ogden and Winkle prior to kickoff, something several other 2A and 1A schools plan on doing as well this Friday.

As a further show of support, the Richfield community has organized a fund-raiser for a scholarship fund in Ogden and Winkle's names. Several thousand T-shirts have been donated, and a local company will screen-print them with the phrase, "No. 13 and No. 44, Gone But Not Forgotten." Even though fans can pick them up free, they're encouraged to contribute money to the scholarship fund.

Giddings said every one of his players plans on wearing one under their shoulder pads.

All four players in the car accident were projected starters. Giddings says that Robinson should be back in a couple of weeks while Johnson is likely done for the season with a broken pelvis.

E-mail: jedward@desnews.com