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Ras a Tech workhorse

Copper Country Legends

September 22, 2012
By Paul Peterson - For the Gazette , The Daily Mining Gazette

HOUGHTON - His name can be found all over the Michigan Tech football record books, but Larry Ras remembers one game in particular during his career.

"The last game of the season in Moorhead in 1971," Ras said in an interview not long ago. "We were unbeaten and going for the conference title that day. But the weatherman threw us a curveball."

That curveball came in the form of several inches of wet, heavy snow on the Moorhead field the night before, creating a quagmire.

Then-MTU coach Ted Kearly said Moorhead officials offered to delay the game by a day.

"We were operating on a shoestring budget back then and staying another a day would have been costly," Kearly recalled. "In retrospect, I probably should have taken them up on the offer."

John Meyers, a Houghton High product, was a standout end/linebacker for Tech that season. He remembered the game well.

"Those were the worst field conditions I had ever seen," Meyers said. "You could hardly stand up on it, much less run on it. It was brutal."

Minnesota-Moorhead scored on a punt return early in the game, and made it stand up for a 6-0 win.

Finishing with an 8-1 record, the Huskies had the option of going to a NAIA playoff game. But because they held a dual membership in the NAIA and Division II, accepting the game would have made other MTU sports teams ineligible for postseason action.

That would be the only year MTU held a dual membership with the NAIA.

Bittersweet ending aside, Ras enjoyed a storied career in Houghton.

Recruited by head coach Bill Lucier from downstate Jenison High, Ras made an immediate splash.

"Larry (Ras) was a big back (6-foot-3, 200 pounds) for those days," Kearly said. "But he was a hard runner and a very intense competitor. If the other team intercepted one of our passes ... you could bet that he would be the first one to make the tackle."

Ras earned a starting spot in the MTU backfield midway through his freshman season and never relinquished it until he graduated.

Lucier was his coach that first season, Kearly taking over after that as the Huskies enjoyed great success.

"We were always competing for the NIC title," Meyers said. "We had some good ballplayers, but Larry (Ras) was our workhorse."

Before he was through, Ras would gain a then-school record 3,761 yards and total 40 touchdowns.

His best season came in in 1971 when he rushed for 1,403 yards and tallied 23 touchdowns in Tech's 8-1 season.

After gaining Little All-American honors, he was invited to the Washington Redskins training camp.

"I had pulled a hamstring about week before the camp and I really couldn't do anything there," he said. "I really believe I could have played with the people at the camp, but it just wasn't to be."

Jim VanWagner arrived in Houghton a season after Ras left and started breaking records. His 4,911 yards rushing is still the record.

A charter (1985) member of the MTU Sports Hall of Fame, Larry said he has no regrets about his career.

"I had a great time in Houghton, received an education and played with some great teammates. What more can you ask?"

 
 

 

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