It’s a hobby.
The long-time Marietta High School coaching legend, who retired from coaching in 2009 after 15 seasons at the helm, is coaching again in Cobb County for the first time in five years.
Richards agreed to serve as a community coach for Whitefield Academy this season after coaching last season at East Paulding under Chuck Goddard, formerly a head coach at Wheeler and assistant at Walton. Before his brief stint at East Paulding, Richards wasn’t coaching at all. But lately, his former players and assistants are luring him back.
“I’m trying to get out of coaching and they won’t let me,” Richards said. “But that’s OK. I need something to do, and I love kids. I’ll help out and do what I need to do.”
Russ Rainey, who was on Richards’ staff at Marietta, talked him back into the business. This season, it was his Whitefield’s offensive coordinator Todd Pruett who persuaded him. Pruett played for Marietta in the early 1980s when Richards was on staff as an assistant. Richards is expected to help out with the defensive line.
“(Pruett) is a good friend of mine,” Friday said. “He’s one of my kids really. (Coaching) gives me something to do and I’m excited. He asked me to come help and I’m going to help.
Once Pruett got Richards on board, he had hoped the Marietta coaching icon would work with the running backs. As a player, Richards was a blocking fullback for the University of Florida before he was drafted in the seventh round by the New York Jets in 1976. But Richards preferred to work with the defensive line.
“He likes to get into the trenches with the guys because that’s where the game is played,” Pruett said. “He has a way of doing a lot of things for the guys. That’s Coach Friday. The kids are going to learn a lot and have a chance to play for a guy that (Marietta alumni) would still play for today.”
Richards, a 1972 graduate of Marietta, put together a 107-52 career record with the Blue Devils after serving as an assistant under Ray Broadway and Dexter Wood. As a head coach, Richards made 10 playoff appearances, won four region titles and sent more than 100 players to college on football scholarships.
Whitefield, which is entering its eighth year under Jimmy Fields, is coming off a 4-6 season and barely missed the playoffs. Twelve starters from last year’s team and Friday will work closely with returning linemen Connor Caffrey, T.J. Carter and Ty McLemore, all of who are rising juniors.