Fair Park head football coach Mike Greene knew there would be a large, painful void during the 2015 season. It had nothing to do with victories, his staff or a host of departing seniors from his successful 2014 squad.
The missing piece now, and forever, is Richard Lary.
Lary, a head football coach at Captain Shreve, died from a heart attack in April. He was 49.
The community was robbed of someone who was loved for the relationships he built, improved and repaired. Greene had his best friend stolen.
“I don’t know if I’ll ever get over that,” he said. I keep thinking there was something — when someone dies, you hope there’s a reason, something – dang I can’t.”
Greene had an idea life without Lary would be tough, but when the Indians completed their first scrimmage, he was shocked at the implications.
“When I got to the (parking lot) gate after every practice, every game, it was Richard and I on the phone,” Greene said. “After our scrimmage I picked up my phone at the gate to dial – we talked on the way to school, we talked on the way to lunch.”
Friday night, Captain Shreve will play at Lee Hedges Stadium for the first time since Lary became ill just a few hundred feet away from the football field. The Gators (0-1), with Bryant Sepluvado at the helm, will host Huntington (1-0).
Ally Lary, the daughter of Richard and Becky, will be on the sideline as a Shreve cheerleader. Becky and younger daughter, Camryn, will likely have an endless list of support in the stands for the emotional return.
“It’s going to be hard on his wife and everybody that was close to him that first season,” Greene said. “I try to look at it like football is a game that has allowed me to make great friends.”
Thursday night, Greene and his Indians took the field at Lee Hedges and defeated Southwood, 14-6.
Although Greene enjoyed a raucous postgame celebration with his young squad (1-1), his return to the Gators’ home field was tempered.
“The whole season it’s almost like it’s not real,” Greene said. “He would have been out on the field telling me I should have done this … everything about it is different.”
Fair Park opened the season with a Thursday loss to BTW in Week 1. There was an empty feeling for Greene the following day, and not because the Indians were off.
“(Captain Shreve) played Pineville and (Lary) had a mind that he could have told me every single play,” Greene said. “Sometimes I’d just hold the phone out the window, but I miss that. He could tell you down and distance and, ‘This guy had a speck of dirt on his left foot.’ He and (Byrd head coach Mike) Suggs are the only two I know like that.”
Lary and Greene were so close, their wives often joked about the depth of their bromance.
“He was funny,” Greene said. “His dad was state trooper; my dad was a policeman. There was so much – we just thought alike.”
Greene has been heavily involved in the grieving process for the Larys. If he’s not talking to Ally on the way to school, he’s keeping tabs on social media.
“I text Becky almost every morning,” Greene said. “I know he would have done it for me. I will make sure everything is OK for them as much as I can.
“I told his wife I’m keeping his yard because that gives me time to be with him. I just go over there to think.”
Greene will drop by Lee Hedges on Friday night.
“I’ll see if I can handle it,” Greene said. “He was just a good person. You just hate losing the good ones.
“It’s just going to take a while. I miss him and I always will.”