Before they were high school football coaches, Mt. Vernon’s Doug Armstrong and Cathedral’s Rick Streiff were collegiate rivals.
When the two shake hands on Tech High School’s football field Friday night (7 p.m.) before their regional final tilt, they’ll add another chapter to their connection on the gridiron.
In the early 1980s, Streiff was a wide receiver for Butler, while Armstrong was a defensive back for Indiana Central (now known as the University of Indianapolis).
When the two teams faced off at Central in 1983, Streiff caught a touchdown pass. Armstrong believes Streiff may have beaten him on the scoring play.
“I think they got the better of us that day,” Armstrong admitted (Butler won 26-6).
Streiff and Armstrong wouldn’t cross paths again for almost another decade.
In 1991, Streiff was heading into his third season as Cathedral’s head coach and found himself with a vacancy at defensive coordinator. In need of a recommendation, Streiff phoned Bill Sylvester, one of his good friends and the head coach at Roncalli.
Sylvester suggested that Armstrong, one of his assistant coaches, would be a good fit for the job.
“It seemed like something that we could work together at and be successful,” Armstrong said. “Rick gave me a shot and I have a lot of gratitude to him for that.
“To coach at place like Cathedral is a thing all coaches should experience.”
Armstrong coordinated Streiff’s defense for 10 seasons, and the Fighting Irish made five trips to the state finals, winning titles in 1992, 1996, 1998 and 1999.
Asked what he remembers about Armstrong’s coaching style, Streiff submitted a one-word answer before elaborating on his former lieutenant.
“Intense,” said Streiff, 175-42 in his 18th season at Cathedral. “He is all about intensity. He always brought that intensity.
“And I know for a fact his kids will be prepared as well as they can be, and that there will be a few wrinkles Doug will have thought up that we won’t be prepared for.”