1969 Outstanding Athlete…Coal Creek’s Rick Haas

Another excellent player for the Coal Creek Bearcats in the late 1960s was Rick Haas, a four-year starter for the black and red at the guard position. As a freshman in 1966, Rick helped the Bearcats win their first Sectional when they defeated Crawfordsville, Ladoga, and New Ross to claim the crown. When outstanding guard Larry Lidester graduated in 1966, Rick assumed a major role in leading the team during the 1966-67 season. As a sophomore, he finished with a 16.4 average and was named to the County Tourney team. The Bearcats beat Ladoga in the final game 86-78 to claim the championship. In that contest, Rick scored 19 points, Lee Fouts tallied 17, and Denny Mennen was on fire with 31 points. Ladoga’s Jim Harshbarger pumped in 27 points for the Canners.

During his junior and senior years, Rick became the dominating force in the Bearcat attack, as he was named most valuable player both years. He could shoot from anywhere on the court, and surprised opponents with his lightning fast passes. In the 1967-68 season, he upped his season average to just a little over 20 points per contest, good enough for fourth place in the county scoring race, behind Mike Mitchell of Waveland, Larry Grimes of Crawfordsville, and Don Threlkeld of Darlington. And in his last year at CCC, Rick topped all scorers in the county with a fine 21.9 average, just edging out Linden’s super sophomore Daryl Warren. He was also named to the All-County and All-Sectional tourney teams both years. The Bearcats made it to the championship game of the Sectional in 1969, but finished runnerup to Crawfordsville 72-63, as the Athenian’s Kirk Links, Steve Templeman, and Bobby Reese proved too much to handle. (The Darlington powerhouse team that year ended up undefeated in the regular season and played at the Lebanon Sectional, where they won their first Sectional championship by downing Speedway in the final game 56-54. However, their chances of a Regional title ended when the Indians’ shooting went cold and Crawfordsville pulled an amazing upset.)

Because Rick also excelled in baseball and track, he was selected by the Montgomery County Coaches Association as the most outstanding athlete of 1969. After graduation, Rick headed to Indiana Central where he played two years on the junior varsity before moving up to the A-team his last two years. As a senior, he received the team’s mental attitude award for the same hustle, determination, and sportsmanship that he displayed in high school.

After the small schools closed in 1971 because of consolidation, the basketball fans of Montgomery County voted for the top players of all-time, and Rick was named as one of the best…a fitting tribute to one of the greatest basketball players to ever play for the Coal Creek Bearcats!

John “Butch” Dale is a retired teacher and County Sheriff. He has also been the librarian at Darlington the past 32 years, and is a well-known artist and author of local history.