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Richland football has strong family ties as Royals enter the playoffs as district champs

Richland gave up 13 points in less than three minutes during its Week 10 matchup with Mansfield Timberview in the District 5-5A D1 championship.

To some, it looked like another beating by Timberview, which won last year’s game 59-24.

But the Royals never gave up.

They scored 14 points before the end of the first quarter and shut out the Wolves in the fourth on their way to a 37-27 victory for the district crown.

Then they beat Dallas Molina in Week 11 to finish the regular season 10-0 for the first time in program history. Richland’s district title was a first since 2016 when there were three teams on top of the district standings.

However, the outright district championship was Richland’s first since 1995 – 28 years ago.

“Having been a graduate, it means a lot to me. I knew those things because I know the history of this place,” head coach Ged Kates. “We have a lot of special kids on this team. About six weeks ago I told the kids that this isn’t fools gold, you guys have a chance to be really good if you want to be really good and they have really taken that and run with it.”

As significant as that may seem, there’s a lot more to it.

Kates has been leading the Royals since arriving back to his alma mater in 2012. But Ged missed that title in 95 by a few months after graduating in the spring.

His younger brother Matt, however, was on the defensive line on that championship squad.

Now 28 years later, not only is Ged leading from the sideline but his son and Matt’s nephew Drew is the starting quarterback. Drew is in his junior season.

Against 3rd ranked Timberview, Kates threw for 250 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and added 61 yards on six carries. On the season, Kates has thrown for 1,933 yards and 24 TDs against only three interceptions. He’s also rushed for 340 yards, averaging nearly 7 a carry, with eight touchdowns.

“I’ve been running around here since 2012 – since kindergarten – being the ball and seeing it all. It’s something I’ve been waiting for my whole life and it’s been exciting,” Drew said. “We’re 10-0, but we want 11 and 12, and we want to be 16-0 so we gotta keep this going.”

The Royals will look to open the playoffs with a win when they play Frisco in the Class 5A Division 1 bi-district round at 7 pm Friday from the Birdville Fine Arts Athletic Center.

Ged still remembers the 1995 team and coming back from college during the final game of the regular season. Not only did the Royals win the title, but they clinched a playoff spot.

Back then, only the district champs would move on to the postseason.

“I came back from college in the hopes to see them win the district title and it worked out that way. I was excited for Matt and I still took pride in it even though I was a couple years older,” Ged said. “Matt was about 5-10 and 240 pounds in the middle of that defense and no one really ran through the A gap – he was stacking it up. But he was an all district nose tackle and did a good job back then.”

Of course, Drew didn’t see his uncle Matt play. He wouldn’t be born for another 11-12 years.

But he said it was cool to make history with family.

“It just shows the history of this place,” Drew said. “I still can’t believe it’s their alma mater. It’s pretty special to see pictures of him wearing that #50. It’s pretty fun to have this history here.

AND it’s special for father and son to share the moment.

Ged has dreamt of it for a long time.

“Drew did grow up on the sideline and he’s got two younger brothers coming up behind him,” Kates said. “Honestly, being a coach’s kid isn’t that fun all the time. I’m harder on him than anyone else. But he knows he has unconditional love from me and his mom, and his whole family. He’s been good and he’s been improving every week, and he’s one of our leaders.

“No matter how long this happens or how long it goes, I’ll be his daddy forever, but in the meantime, I’m trying to have fun with it and it’s been fun so far – it’s been a ball.”

Richland’s season started off tight – beating Mansfield Legacy and Haltom by a combined six points. But through eight district games, the Royals outscored teams by more than 300. They enter the postseason averaging 47 points a game and allowing 15.

They are ranked #10 in the DCTF Texas HS Class 5A D1 state poll.

Frisco is 6-4 and finished fourth in 6-5A D1 behind Lone Star, Reedy and Wakeland. The Raccoons are averaging 23 points a game and allowing 17.5.

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