By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Reporter
KANSAS CITY — Mike Briggs and Zach Drake have been best buds, classmates and team mates since they were 5 years old. They began playing basketball with a 6 foot high basket, followed by soccer. T-Ball came next, followed by baseball and more basketball, then in sixth grade the two boys switched to football. Both attended Our Lady of the Presentation grade school, and took their football prowess to Archbishop O’Hara High School, where Mike was the starting quarterback the past three seasons and Zach was a wide receiver, field goal kicker, punter and very fast on his feet.
“I’ve played sports in general with Zach since we were five or six years old,” Mike remembered. Both in grade school and high school, playing on the same teams was a “we sort of thing,” he said.
Attending Archbishop O’Hara High School was almost a foregone conclusion for both Mike and Zach. Mike’s older brother is an O’Hara alumnus, and Zach’s dad was a member of O’Hara’s Class of 1986. Zach said that he and his family saw the high school as a good place to get a Catholic education and a good fit. “I didn’t see myself going anywhere else for high school!”
On Feb. 4, National Signing Day for college bound athletes, Mike and Zach signed letters of intent to play football for Missouri State University in Springfield. Another member of the Celtics football team, running back Gerard Harker, also signed to play at “MoState.”
How good are these guys? Well, let’s take a look at some stats. Quarterback Mike Briggs, 6’2”, 205 lbs., helped the Celtics to a 10-2 finish in district play and the West Central Conference title in the 2014 season. He threw for 2,212 yards with 22 touchdowns this past season, carried for 356 yards and 13 scores, all the while breaking O’Hara’s career passing (4,772 yards) and touchdown (42) records. He earned all-conference and all-district honors in 2013 and 2014, receiving conference offensive player of the year laurels both years, among other accolades, including the
Kelly Donohoe Award as the 2014 season’s top quarterback in the Missouri Small Class schools.
Wide receiver Zach Drake, 6’2”, 185 lbs., chalked up 1,710 yards and 16 touchdowns in the 2014 season and was O’Hara’s number 1 career kickoff kicker: 8,479 yards or an average of 256.9 yards per game. Zach made 7 of 11 attempted field goals in 2014 for a 63 percent average and 200 yards. He received the Eric Roe Award as the top wide receiver in the Missouri Small Class.
Both Mike and Zach were named to the 2014 Elite 81 preseason second team by Sports Radio 810.
Attending and playing football for Missouri State University had been in the back of both Mike and Zach’s minds for a while, but it wasn’t until Dave Steckel, former Missouri Tigers Defensive Coordinator, joined the staff of Mo-State as head football coach, and recruited them, that their minds were made up.
“It was a weight lifted off my chest,” Mike said.
Zach said almost the same thing, “It was a relief off my shoulders.”
Mike recalled, “Throughout the whole (signing) day, I was super excited. It was nice to figure out where I wanted to go to college and play football. It was such a good feeling. The hard work had finally paid off!”
Zach was excited too. “It was cool to see all the support from my family, teammates and friends. It’s exciting and a relief. Mo-State was always in the back of my mind. I’m so glad Coach Steckel found a spot for me.”
Mike is interested in studying something to do with athletics, athletic training maybe, but his future is “still in the future.” Right now, he’s probably thinking about his classes, upcoming finals and, oh yes, graduation. And, he also plays varsity baseball for O’Hara.
Zach said he’s always wanted to be an emergency room doctor. There’s a family precedent: his aunt is an ER physician. So medicine is a probable in his future studies.
A fourth O’Hara senior, Haley White, signed a letter of intent to play women’s soccer at William Jewel College in Liberty.
Principal John O’Connor was almost as excited about the signings as the students. “It’s been fun watching them play football and soccer. There was a lot of entertainment.”