Mike Huard didn’t expect an answer any more than he had an answer for the questions of the day.
“Where,” he asked, “do they get those guys?”
“Where,” he was asked, “do you get those sons?”
Huard is the football coach at top-ranked Puyallup, which will take on Central Valley Saturday at 7 p.m. at Albi Stadium in the State 4A semifinals.
“We just don’t play anybody that big,” Huard said of the sixth-ranked Bears (11-1).
“Bellarmine had a couple of big kids but they’re not as athletic as these kids are. I’m impressed. And it’s not just two guys.”
The Vikings are led by senior Luke Huard, the third - and last - Huard son and quarterback to earn a major Division I scholarship. With the 6-foot-4, 212-pound Huard at the controls, Puyallup has averaged 48.3 points a game en route to a 12-0 record.
“We’re tiny guys but my little guys have a lot of fight, a lot of heart,” Huard said. “Obviously we have to be able to stop the run. We have to be able to pass-protect. We’d like to run to be able to keep pressure off the passing game. Our guys are small and they’re not real quick, but for some reason keep making plays.”
The Vikings have more than one weapon. Receiver Todd Elstrom (6-2, 190) is a D-I prospect with 44 receptions for 944 yards and 18 touchdowns. Jeremy Swann (5-7, 150) has rushed for 1,064 yards and 12 TDs.
But the spotlight is on Luke Huard.
Last weekend he passed for 315 yards, six touchdowns and ran for another score in a 56-14 romp over Bellarmine. In three playoff games, he has 896 yards and 13 TDs. For the year he has 2,498 yards and 39 TDs - and just three interceptions.
“We’ve got to be able to get to him,” CV coach Rick Giampietri said.
That is something the Huskies couldn’t do. Luke Huard announced last month he would attend North Carolina. He passed on the University of Washington where his brother Damon, now a reserve with the Miami Dolphins, is the all-time leading passer, and his brother Brock, a sophomore, is likely to break that record.
“Right now I look at it that as far as high school careers have been, I’m right there with them,” he said. “When I’m on the field, I only think about what I have to do for the team to win.”
His brothers’ shadows don’t bother him. Actually, he is the only Huard to take a snap in a playoff game.
“To be real honest, there haven’t been a ton of comparisons,” he said. “Maybe when I get to college there will be a little more. I’m proud of what my brothers have done and what they’re doing. It’s not a problem.”
They’ve also been good teachers.
“I’ve learned how to be a smart quarterback, see things on defense,” he said. “More important, they taught me how to be a good person, a good role model.”
Other than humility, the other trait the brothers share is success.
“Their throwing motions are all different,” Mike said. “Damon was the most polished coming out of high school. I spent more time with him. Then they helped teach each other. Luke is a very competitive kid, he has good leadership skills like Brock. He has probably run with the ball more than the other kids.”
Playing for their father has its ups and downs, according to the coach. He also has a measuring stick. Between Damon and Brock, Darren Erath was the Viking QB who led the team to the Kingbowl. Brock caught a TD pass as a tight end.
“Sometimes I’m not as patient with my own children,” he said. “It is so much less stress (coaching someone else), especially at that position, where I’m calling the offense and they’re trying to execute. I’m more forgiving of their mistakes.
“No one is as patient with their own kid. That’s why they have driver’s training.”
There is a plus side.
“Obviously it’s nice to be able to have some time with your kids,” Mike said. “Some parents don’t get to spend any time with their children. At least we’ve had these battles together, but sometimes the battles have been on the sidelines.
“Brock was best at dealing with it when I yelled. It went in one ear and out the other. Damon and Luke are a little more combative. Damon would yell back.
“I think it’s been a hard journey. Like everybody, you want your kids to be successful. Then when you’re coaching them, especially at the quarterback position, they can just never do enough. Last week’s performance by Luke, I didn’t have to yell at him once. I’m trying to be careful, I don’t want him to hate me for life.”
Doesn’t sound like much of a problem.
“Sometimes it can be a little tough,” Luke said. “It’s something that can be kind of an advantage. When practice is over, football doesn’t really stop.”
Luke is more concerned about the Bears.
“I just have to keep my composure,” he said. “I’m going to take a few hits. I have to throw the ball away when there’s nothing there. They’re a big, physical group of guys.”
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 2 Photos (1 color)
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