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Monday, May 2, 2016

Struck Strikes Out: Spendin' time with my man Cave

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I've been impatiently sitting on this matter since those Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn Eagles rose up to win the 2012 8-player State Football Championship.

In a previous column, I lauded, congratulated and identified the present and past MMC football coaches for all having their fingerprints and influence on this year's State Champs.

None can deny the collaboration of players, coaches, parents, and fans it takes to not only field a successful football team, but to guide and celebrate it to the absolute pinnacle as undefeated State Champs.

However, as I wrote that column, I purposely left one name out because my plan was to make special mention at the end of the column about his unrivaled contributions to the MMC football program the past few years and especially this year's State Champions.

As it is in this business, stuff happens. New news displaces old news. Deadlines deflate the balloon. Daily distractions develop that must be dealt with on the fly. Well-intentioned plans sometimes go down the unretrievable drain.

Welcome to my world.

Brad Cave, this one's for you.

Ever since I first saw him kicking the ball over the moon as a mere freshman MMC Eagle those too many yerars ago, I've followed his football career to South Dakota State and then to Northwestern College where he starred as kicker on nationally acclaimed teams. He still holds the Red Raiders' field goal record.

For me to intentionally dismiss his contributions to the MMC program as football coach simply would never happen.

I realize that life happens and that he resigned as the Eagles' head football coach last year to pursue career business opportunities. As I observed, and many MMC fans have told me, beyond the parents, MMC administration, and faculty, Brad Cave was the glue that held this talented nucleus of State Champs together through some pretty tough times the past few years.

I mean some really tough times no young man should ever have thrust upon him.

But when it came time to lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way, Brad Cave chose to lead. He stood strong, persevered, and kept chopping wood with his team despite being blindsided by a couple terrible tragedies, coping with the despicable perversion of a trusted peer, and enduring some player discipline incidents that sadly strike all teams and negatively impact the program.

But coach Brad Cave stayed the course and taught these young players the values instilled in him of the benefits of character, the weight room, conditioning, track and field participation, sportsmanship, dedication, LISTENING, and execution. And obviously his Eagles took those messages and applied them and, just like he did, stayed the course because there just aren't any shortcuts to greatness, as he well knows.

My only problem ever with coach Cave was that, like some other coaches, he sometimes "lost" my telephone number AND e-mail address after a bitter loss. However, I long ago came to accept that with amusement because I absolutely know the path all coaches walk and the day I stop having their back, somebody stick a fork in me.

I'm certainly not trying to make amends to maybe impress anyone here like his Mom and Dad and uncle Steve, but because I inadvertantly left it out the first time, I merely want to point out that Brad Cave was as vital a cog in the development and ultimate successes of the 2012 MMC State Champion football team as anyone along the way.

Most certainly, the current State Champion MMC coaching regime and players kicked the ball into history and forever Eagle lore.

But Brad Cave, just as he did thousands of times during his playing career, put that ball on the tee and lined 'er up.