Win One For Coach

Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - 2:33pm

High school football team stages amazing rally after learning of coach's death during halftime.

A Kansas football team dealt with the loss of their football coach by immediately changing the outcome of the game they had been losing.

Friday night's game between Herington High School and West Franklin High School started off like any other.

"We came out real slow," said Pat Baalmann, Herington's assistant football coach. "We were not hyped up for the game. We struggled."

The team also struggled in years past, losing 17 consecutive games before this season.

That's why Bud Peterson took the job as head football coach.

He wanted to turn the team around. After the first week, he fell ill.

"A week ago he was healthy," said Mark Cook, Herington High's assistant principal and athletic director. "We won our opening game, our first game."

In the first half of their second game, Friday's game, the Herington Railers were scoreless, trailing West Franklin 10-0.

Then, the news hit that Peterson, 61, died at a Wichita hospital.

Assistant coaches had to make a tough choice.

They decided to tell the players at halftime.

"It will probably be the hardest thing I ever do in my life," said Baalmann. "We have 37 kids out there and they are all standing there looking you in the eyes knowing that something is wrong."

"I went in and told the team at half and immediately tears were flowing," said Baalmann. "We decided we were playing our season, especially last night, for coach."

Playing in Peterson's honor, the Railers came back to win 21 to 10.

Peterson's grandson is a freshman at Herington High School.

He played Friday's game until the final second ticked off the clock, a silver lining if there were to be one at a time like this.

"That was probably the hardest part of the night - seeing him out there kneeling down for a win," said Baalmann.

Coach Peterson was also known for making a difference in the lives of students and colleagues.

"Bud did all the right things, coached all the right things to his players and it resonated to his staff," said Cook.

For the players and coaches, even though Bud Peterson won't be on the sidelines anymore, he'll still be at the game in spirit and making him proud is the only "win" that matters now.

"He's going to be missed, you can't replace someone like him," said Baalmann.

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