Cedarville running back Darryl Kattich lined up on first-and-goal, too young to remember any trauma, yet he possessed the competitive spirit to leave a legacy.
The sixth child of eight, the state’s second leading-rusher entering Friday — according to MaxPreps — was the first infant taken in for a family that struggled with infertility for 12 years before pursuing adoption through foster care.
Taken in by Angela and Mark Kattich, Darryl was placed in any environment where siblings loved each other, yet were determined to beat each other in the athletics arena, with much of his childhood spent in the yard where opponents got mad at each other. Among them was his oldest brother Matthew, who was offered two cross-country scholarships but opted to enter the Marines.
His 19-year-old sister Chanel shares much of that mentality as well, a fellow four-sport athlete herself at Cedarville who earned all-state recognition in each of her three years on the Pirates basketball team, in addition to her state track and softball accomplishments. Academically strong, the University of the Ozarks commit is set to graduate ahead of schedule this spring and with that experience, has supported her brother and helped him go through the recruiting process.
“Me and her, we’ve always talked about college together, going to play in college,” Darryl said. “I knew that was her vision and me just watching her footsteps, it kind of led me to want to do that.”
It is this focus that helped Darryl run for 229 yards on 35 carries on Friday, leading the charge as Cedarville trounced Atkins, 40-12, in the opening round of the Class 3A state playoffs.
It has also helped him wade past adversity and maintain perspective, a “second chance” through adoption that he recognizes, adding that his experience was different than his siblings, who have undergone therapy in response to difficulties faced during early childhood.
Cedarville coach Max Washausen speaks to durability as the player’s strongest trait, put to the test in 2019 against rival Charleston.
“I remember I was running through the middle, I kind of got lifted up just right on my shoulder,” Darryl recalled. “…it hurt my chest area… I don’t think it felt any better.”
Returning to the game, the running back finished with 21 carries for 104 yards for an athlete who on Friday completed his 29th 100-plus rushing game in 31 tries. His stellar career has included 11 200-yard games to lead the Pirates to three consecutive winning records.
Before his arrival, the program had largely been in turmoil, with then-defensive coordinator Washausen taking over, following an Oct. 16, 2015, in-game incident where then-coach Kevin Lea received charges that included inciting a riot and endangering the welfare of a minor.
Washausen eventually became the head man, promoting character and believing the wins would come. His teams have posted improved records in every season since.
“We saw how much he cared, not only on the field but off the field,” Darryl said. “He’s always checking up on you, he’ll call you out of class to make sure you’re good going through school. He just cares a lot more and so we’re all on board with that. We all love that about coach.”
Darryl ran for a career-high 331 yards and matched his previous best mark of four rushing touchdowns in last week’s win over Lincoln to clinch their first home playoff game since 1999.
Despite the previous performance, Darryl didn’t dwell on the past. On first-and-goal from the 5-yard line during Friday’s opening drive, he gave Cedarville the lead for good against Atkins (5-6) as he raced ahead to the end zone.
Cedarville (9-2) travels to undefeated Hoxie in hopes of its fifth all-time playoff victory.
“It is everything that we’ve worked for as this program,” Washausen said. “Like I said, these guys were in seventh grade when I got here and we wanted to make history.”