RIVERTON — It's over for Derrick Rider after four seasons.
Rider announced via Twitter on Wednesday that he will no longer be Riverton's head football coach.
"Never easy to step down, but the time was right for my family and myself," Rider said. "Very thankful for the opportunity I had to be the head coach here. Coached a lot of great young men and made many memories that I will cherish forever."
Rider, a 2002 Southeast High graduate and former Pittsburg State player, coached the Rams to a winning overall record, although that 7-3 state playoff season of his first year seems like a distant memory after the Rams posted a 3-6 overall record this past season, 0-3 in Class 3A, District 8 against St. Mary's Colgan, Galena and Southeast.
The Rams were 20-17 (.541 winning percentage) overall and 13-14 CNC during his tenure.
In a 2010 story entitled "Coaching is easy for Rider," his former high school coaches Bryan Burdette and Cory White talked about what they saw in Rider when they coached him in high school.
"There was no better competitor than Derrick Rider," White said. "He was a self-driven, self-focused player. He never questioned what a coach would want to do. There was no better ambassador for your student body. He's a great role model."
"I always thought if he wanted to pursue that line of work that he would be good at it," Burdette said. "He was able to make changes at the line of scrimmage. He always had a good idea of what was going on in the game. You can definitely see the ones who have that type of ability and mentality to be a coach. Those kids are probably going to end up in a leadership-type position no matter what they do."
White stepped down as Riverton head coach to focus on his principal duties and the job went to Rider, his first head coaching experience.
His first season ended in a tough 43-40 playoff loss to Neodesha. Greyson Spriggs, then a sophomore, rushed for 893 yards and 19 TDs on 179 carries and recorded 90 tackles on defense. Keeshawn Walker led the Rams with 92 stops.
The 2011 and 2012 seasons both ended in near-misses on the playoffs, 5-4 overall and 1-2 district records. Caney Valley, Galena and Colgan earned playoff berths those seasons, with Galena defeating Riverton in the final game of the season both years. Galena also beat Riverton in 2010, a year when Rider shared CNC Coach of the Year honors with Galena head coach Beau Sarwinski.
This past season was up-and-down — two losses, a win, a loss, two wins and three straight losses. The Rams lost their season-opener 27-21 to Frontenac in double overtime but the biggest losses of the season were injuries to senior quarterback Chandler Underhill and junior receiver Landon North.
Page 2 of 2 - Underhill rushed for nearly 500 yards and six TDs, and passed for nearly 1,000 yards with 10 TDs and five interceptions. North caught 30 passes for 671 yards and seven TDs. The Kansas Sports Hall of Fame lists North's 338-yard performance against Girard as the state record for receiving yards.
Riverton won 3A state titles in 1990 and 1993.
In the course of less than a year, the Crawford-Neosho-Cherokee League has gone from two Rider coaches — Derrick and his younger brother Clint — to none. Clint Rider took the Hesston job last spring and guided the Swathers to a 8-2 record his first season.
We did a story on the Rider brothers on the eve of Clint's first season as head coach of their alma mater, Southeast. Derrick came off his first season, the 7-3 state playoff team. Younger and older brother both participated in the story, with interviews collected at the preseason coaches' luncheon.
"Growing up, Derrick would take time out of whatever he was doing to make sure that I was involved in any kind of athletics," Clint said, "whether it was us in the backyard playing football or out on our gravel basketball court. He taught me a lot about dedication and discipline, and how to be a leader. I've always had a close relationship with him and he kept me on a straight-and-narrow path."
"If he ever has a question, I'm more than willing to help with something," Derrick said. "Being there for each other is the main thing. Not every time last year, but we would call each other just to check in to see how they did or touch base with each other."
Riverton-Southeast split their two meetings with both Riders at the helm.
On Wednesday, the Riders' former high school coach Burdette (now head coach at Maranatha Christian Academy) said the following on Twitter: "I have never met a Rider that did not exhibit true integrity. @DerrickRider way to be a leader and stand for what is right."