Town never quite managed that (sports) match made in heaven

By Jack Hackley

I recently did a column about three farm boys who attended a one-room country school, graduated from Mexico High School in 1952, and all three obtained their PhD’s.
After that article was published, I was reminded that back in the days when Grain Valley High School had fewer than a hundred pupils, Grain Valley produced two of the greatest football coaches that ever lived.
Charlie Richard, who graduated in 1959 in a class of 33 students, was one of the best quarterbacks the high school ever had, went to college at William Jewel, and was quarterback for their first undefeated season.
He became coach at Baker University, and his winning record of 123 wins/28 losses/1 tie was the best in the nation.
In 2004, Charlie was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind. There have only been a couple of coaches inducted into the Hall of Fame, including Knute Rockne, with a higher percentage of wins than Charlie’s (813 percent).
Exactly 10 years prior to Charlie Richard’s graduating class, and also one of the best football players to come out of Grain Valley High School, was Ken Gibler.
He graduated in 1949 with 32 classmates. He went on to play at Missouri Valley College and came back to the college to become one of the most respected coaches in the nation.
“The Gib” had a coaching record of 90 wins, 27 losses and 6 ties. His team played in two bowl games and the NAIA playoffs. The two coaches from Grain Valley were the best of friends and played each other many times.
Ken Gibler came from a large family of boys who were all good at sports. At the same time, Grain Valley had a family of tall girls by the name of Brizendine, who played basketball and were great athletes. The Grain Valley townspeople always wanted the Gibler boys and the Brizendine girls to hook up so they could have super football and basketball teams in the future. But it never happened.

Jack can be reached at PO Box 40, Oak Grove, MO 64075 or Check out

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