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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Steve Christilaw: The game of football loves its blood lines

The game of football loves its blood lines.

At every level of the game, family lines shine through.

It’s true with coaches – witness the offspring of such NFL coaches as Vince Lombardi (Vince Lombardi Jr.), Don Shula (Mike and Dave), Mike Shanahan (Kyle) and Marty Shottenheimer (Brian, now offensive coordinator for the Seahawks). And that’s not even counting Bum Phillips and his son, Wade, or Buddy Ryan and his sons Rob and Rex. Or Jim Mora and his son, Jim.

College is much the same. Florida State coach Bobby Bowden even faced off against his son, Terry, when he coached Clemson. Lane Kiffen hired his father, Monte, when he was head coach at USC and the late Joe Paterno hired his son, Jay, to be on his staff at Penn State and Dennis Erickson did the same with his son, Bryce, at Arizona State.

But it all goes deeper than just the coaching ranks. It’s almost commonplace to see high school coaches install their sons as their quarterbacks. In fact, it’s almost the exception to the rule when a coach like West Valley’s Craig Whitney or East Valley’s Adam Fisher feature their sons somewhere other than under center.

It’s less common to see a situation like the one at Idaho, where head coach Paul Petrino’s son Mason is also a quarterback for the Vandals.

When you get to the NFL, the blood lines tend to run strong, especially when it comes to quarterbacks.

The Seattle Seahawks have tapped into family bloodlines on a number of occasions, starting with Jeff Kemp, whose father was former Buffalo Bills quarterback and United States Senator Jack Kemp. One-time backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst was a second-generation NFL quarterback as well, carrying on the legacy of his father, David Whitehurst. And let’s not forget that Matt Hasselbeck, who led the Hawks to their first Super Bowl appearance, is the son of former NFL tight end Don.

Former Seahawks quarterback Jon Kitna is in the process of getting into the generational act. Now the quarterbacks coach for the Dallas Cowboys, his son Jalen is the junior quarterback at Frisco Reedy High and recently committed to play college football at Boston College.

The Colts have also tapped into a successful gene pool multiple times, taking Peyton Manning, son of former New Orleans, Tennessee and Minnesota quarterback Archie Manning. Indianapolis then tapped Andrew Luck to be Manning’s successor.

Luck’s father, Oliver, was a quarterback with the Houston Oilers for a time but has had much more success in business and currently is the CEO and Commissioner of the XFL, the new league that will feature a Jim Zorn-coached Seattle Dragons.

There are other family quarterbacks. Bob Griese and his son, Brian. Phil Simms and his son Chris. But the bloodlines aren’t just limited to the backfield.

Howie Long’s son, Chris is following in his father’s footsteps and long-time offensive tackle Clay Matthews Sr. had two sons with long NFL careers. Clay Matthews Jr. followed in his father’s footsteps in another way, with two sons in the NFL.

A Facebook friend loves former NFL official Ed Hochuli (I do not question her motives but she has been known to attend games and Halloween parties dressed in appropriate attire and calling herself Edna Hochuli). I should also point out that her deep and abiding affection does not apply to his son, Shawn, who is also an NFL game official.

The Seattle area will have a couple young quarterbacks carrying on the family tradition during this high school football season.

The Huard family has a long and rich history in Puget Sound.

Mike Huard was a state championship coach at Puyallup High, and two of his sons, Damon and Brock, played quarterback for the Vikings before going on to play at both the University of Washington and in the NFL. A third, Luke Huard, played at North Carolina.

Damon’s son, Sam, will quarterback Kennedy Catholic this fall. As a freshman last year, the 6-foot-1 lefthander threw for 3,432 and 34 touchdowns and was named MaxPreps Freshman of the Year.

Coach Sheldon Cross relied on Huard to throw the ball an average of almost 40 times per game, and in the season finale against Bellarmine Prep last year he threw for 532 yards, the fourth-best single-game total in state history.

And another former Husky quarterback’s offspring is continuing the legacy at Mount Si in Snoqualmie.

Hugh Millen led the Huskies to a win over Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl, and in the NFL with the Rams, Falcons and five other teams. He’s currently a football analyst for several Seattle-area media outlets.

Meanwhile, his son Cale is just beginning his college football career as a quarterback at Oregon this fall, turning over the quarterback duties at his alma mater, Mount Si, to his younger brother, Clay.

The younger Millen has yet to take a snap as a high school quarterback but he already has a Pac-12 scholarship offer on the table from Oregon and some experts suggest he’s an even better prospect than his older brother.

It doesn’t take a famous father to make a successful athlete, although it doesn’t hurt.

But it does take a good deal of care and feeding. And it takes a great deal of enthusiasm and encouragement. It takes parents and mentors – people who help teach discipline and sportsmanship.

It takes a family – tradition and extended, adoptive or foster.

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