Nichols helping coach Cubs football

Wednesday, July 27, 2016
During his high school days, Ricky Nichols thrilled Wildcat Nation with his electric play on the field. This year, the Cassville alumnus is coaching the Monett wide receivers. Chuck Nickle/Special to the Cassville Democrat

Cassville standout adjusting to new duties at rival school

Cassville alumnus and two-sport standout (baseball and football) Ricky Nichols admits that it still feels weird to say that he works for Monett.

A life-long Wildcat supporter, and an All-State player for David Large for Wildcat football coach, Nichols has traded in his Cassville black in order to coach in the purple and gold of Monett.

Former Cassville standout Ricky Nichols observers Monett athletes during a summer weight lifting session. Nichols will coach the Cubs wide receivers this season. Jared Lankford/sports@cassville-democrat.com

Nichols, who still lives in Cassville, said others have noticed the subtle change in his wardrobe.

"I've been wearing some of my Monett gear around town and caught some light hearted flak," he said. "Most the time people look at me weird, but I am able to dish it out as much as i can take the joking around. It feels weird working for a school that you spent so much effort in trying to beat for so many years, but it isn't anything I can't handle."

This season, Nichols was hired to coach the wide receivers at Monett while he finishes his student teaching in order to become a certified physical education instructor.

Nichols, who played three seasons at Missouri Southern State University (MSSU) in Joplin, said the decision to forgo his senior year of eligibility for the Lions was tough, but the right call for his family.

"I'm married with a child and have more pressing responsibilities," Nichols said. "Instead of channelling my energies into preparing to play, I get to channel my knowledge and experience into helping the receivers at Monett get ready."

Monett Head Coach Derrek Uhl said Nichols is a welcome addition to his staff.

"Ricky is a smart kid who brings a lot to the table that can help Monett," Uhl said. "His high school and college experience is going to help our receivers get better. We've enjoyed having him on the staff and feel like he is a guy that will make our team more competitive."

His senior high school season, Nichols was a Missouri Football Coaches Association First Team All-State athlete. He also collected an Associated Press Second Team All-State nod, while being named the Big 8 Conference Offensive Player of the Year.

The same year, Nichols collected First-Team All-Conference accolades as a quarterback and was a Second Team pick by the Southwest Missouri Coaches Association as a quarterback.

He rushed for 1,100 yards and 20 touchdowns, while throwing for 700 and 10 passing touchdowns while returning two kickoffs for a score during his senior campaign.

As a junior, he was a Second Team All-Big 8 quarterback pick, rushing for 809 yards and 12 scores, while throwing for 1,100 yards and 11 touchdowns.

In baseball, he earned First-Team All-State honors as a shortstop on the baseball diamond and set a school record for career batting average.

At MSSU, Nichols red-shirted his freshman season. In 2013, as a redshirt freshman, he appeared in all 10 games at wide receiver for the Lions totaling one carry for five yards in Southern's win over Central Missouri. He also returned kickoffs and punts where he

totaled four kickoff returns for 87 yards and four punt returns for 46 yards. Nichols netted a season-long 27-yard kickoff return in the Lions' season-opening win over Central Oklahoma and netted a season-best 22-yard punt return in a win at home over Lincoln.

In 2014, Nichols appeared in seven games for the Lions and finished the season with six catches for 116 yards, averaging 19.3 yards per catch.

His longest catch of the season with a 44-yard reception against Fort Hays State, where he also set his season-high reception total with 4 catches for 74 yards.

Nichols also was named MIAA Academic Honor Roll, sporting a 3.3 GPA.

While he knows that his presence on the sideline for Monett may bother some of the Cassville faithful, he has a simple message.

"It's just business," he said. "If Cassville has a job open in the future, I'd be open to coming home to work.

"For now, I'm a Cub."

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