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2011 Hall of Fame Spotlight: Ernie Richards Sr.

Ernie Richards, Sr.

Ernie Richards Sr. was, by all accounts, a dominant player on the gridiron for Milford High. A two way lineman, he was the first player to earn a football scholarship under legendary coach Hop Riopel when he was offered a full ride to play at Bucknell after graduating from high school in 1933. He turned down the scholarship offer to work and support his family, and the continued support he showed for his loved ones would become his greatest legacy.
"When I was born, he came to the hospital and brought me a little football," said his son, Ernie Richards Jr. "He had me playing football when I was eight years old, and he was my coach."
The younger Richards would go on to his own successful coaching career in football, leading a half dozen high school programs over the years and serving as an assistant coach at Worcester State College. "He would always be there at my games, and I would look up and see the smile on his face," said Richards. "When I had a good game, he would never tell me, but I knew because he didn't say anything. When I didn't have a good game, he would let me know, and most of the time he was right."
The elder Richards continued to show his support for his grandchildren, rarely missing a game even after suffering a stroke. Richards passed away in 2006, but he was there to watch his granddaughter Gina score her 1000th point as a member of the Hopedale High basketball team. He was also there to see his grandson Justin play and eventually become the head coach of the Milford Sr. Babe Ruth team.
"The love of sports was definitely passed down from my grandfather to my father and from my father to me," said Justin Richards, who is now the head varsity coach at Oxford High School. "He made sure my grandmother drove him to every one of my games. His dedication to sports is the biggest thing I got from him."
Ernie Richards Sr. earned Milford High Hall of Fame recognition for his play on the football field. He starred on Milford teams that posted back to back one loss seasons despite playing all of the state's powerhouse teams. When the Hawks wanted to run the ball, they ran behind Richards. Even though the other teams knew it was coming, they couldn't stop him. After his standout career at Milford, he was able to continue his athletic career as a member of a local semi-pro football team.
He was also a hall of fame family man, raising his family the Depression. He worked several jobs, from loading trucks at night to setting up pins at the local bowling alley, to make sure his family was able to have what they needed and even take vacations. And he instilled a love of sports in his family that has stretched into its third generation.
"He really beamed with joy when his son or grandkids did well in athletics," said Ernie Richards Jr. "They didn't have to be superstars, he was there and he enjoyed it and was proud of every moment."
The Milford High School Hall of Fame committee has announced its class of 2011 inductees. Each issue, the Milford Town Crier will profile members of the class. The induction ceremony will be held on November 13, 2011 at the Myriad Ballroom in Mendon.




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