One goal has driven Ricks football players and coaches all season: a Centennial Bowl win Nov. 18 during the college's centennial year.
First, the team had to play well enough to earn an invitation to the aptly named junior college bowl game (Idaho's centennial is in 1990). The Vikings took care of that with an 8-2 record and an end-of-season national ranking of 11th.Then they had to beat a talented 6-3 Walla Walla (Wash.) team that gave them fits in last year's inaugural Centennial Bowl (when Ricks came from behind in dramatic fashion to win 42-38 in the last 30 seconds).
This time, with history at stake, Ricks took nothing to chance, totally dominating the Warriors from start to finish, offensively and defensively, in a convincing 40-7 rout. The game was played in front of a friendly crowd of 5,109 at Idaho State University's indoor Holt Arena, located just 75 miles south of Ricks' Rexburg, Idaho, campus.
"Our goal at the beginning of the year was to win the Centennial Bowl in the college'sT centennial year," said Ricks head Coach Ron Haun. Haun is used to achieving goals he sets - his seven-year record at the two-year Church college is a glossy 58-16-1.
His players have a unique goal orientation as well. As is typical for a Viking team, about 50 of its members are returned missionaries. Many others are headed for full-time missions after the semester or school year is over.
And this diverse group of young men hailing from 19 states and three countries wasted little time toward achieving this night's goal.
Quarterback Tom English (son of former BYU assistant football coach Wally English) completed a 48-yard touchdown pass to Eric Moss just 51/2 minutes into the game.
Moss, whose 20-yards-per-catch average this season is astounding for a tight end, spectacularly one-handed another touchdown pass from nine yards out early in the second quarter. His receptions sandwiched a three-yard scoring run by Troy Simpson, and Ricks led 20-0 just two minutes into the second quarter.
While Ricks' offense was stringing recently installed on the 1,200-acre orange and grapefruit orchard. Genho peeled and partially cored an orange "the Florida way" so President and Sister Benson could taste the juice.
As they toured the ranch, their car passed herds of cattle tended by cowboys. President Benson recognized the Brangus and Simbrah breeds, and complimented Genho on the condition of the cattle.
Later, the Bensons attended a steak barbecue at the ranch house, enjoying ample cups of freshly squeezed orange juice.
President and Sister Benson enjoyed attending a conference of the Florida Tampa Mission on Nov. 19. He spoke to the missionaries, and then shook hands with each one of them.
Because President Benson's trip had not been confirmed until just before they left, missionaries were told only that "special visitors" were coming. When the "special visitors" entered, the missionaries were more than a little surprised.
Elder Mike Bradshaw of Alpine, Utah, said,"I couldn't believe my eyes. I had no idea he was coming. The Spirit was so strong when we saw him."
Mission Pres. G. Vern Albright said, "This will be a day all of us will remember all the days of our lives."
President Benson told the missionaries, "I would love to be with you [on a missionT. I love missionary work - there is no question about that. I love you, I sustain you, and I am grateful for you."
At the missionary meeting, Sister Benson recited a poem, "Home," by Edgar A. Guest. President Benson was introduced by Pres. Albright, who told many life experiences of President Benson.
"We want you to know how our missionaries love the Book of Mormon," Pres. Albright said. "They study it daily, and we are attempting to flood this area with copies of the Book of Mormon."
Pres. Albright recalled that he had been a clothing salesman in Provo, Utah, in 1952 when rumors were flying that then-Apostle Benson would be asked to be Secretary of Agriculture by newly elected President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Elder Benson received the phone call from President Eisenhower while in Provo, and "I was standing next to him when he bought a new navy blue suit to wear back to Washington," said Pres. Albright. He then recounted President Benson's successful eight years in the Cabinet.
When President Benson arose to address the missionaries, he said, "I think you've heard all there is to learn about the next speaker.
"I am so happy to be here. You can't be unhappy and be in the mission field, can you?" he continued.
He recalled the experience of his parents when his father was called on a mission. "My mother had seven children when my father went on a mission," he said. "I never heard one word of complaint that father was called on a mission. I know what it is to have a loyal mother," said President Benson, "and so do you."
In conclusion, he said, "I feel to invoke my blessing on you. You are in the greatest work in all the world. I know it."