It's daddy daycare unlike any other.
Watch any afternoon football practice at Boyd-Buchanan, which has reached at least the state quarterfinals each of the last three seasons, and you'll see a unique father-son aspect.
Head coach Grant Reynolds, offensive coordinator Carter Cardwell, defensive coordinator Steve Robbins and assistants Jeff Stone and Todd Roland all have young sons who join them for practice every day. Besides Cardwell's oldest son Jim, a sophomore starting quarterback, and Roland's son Alex, a freshman defensive lineman, the other four boys all race from the elementary school just to hang out with their dads at practice.
"It's a pretty neat way for all of us to get to see our sons," Reynolds said. "And it helps our wives because they don't have to worry about where the boys are going to be after school. It definitely puts things in perspective when you see the guys with their kids.
"Football is a sport that teaches character, and I think it's important for young boys to be around other men or older boys who are positive mentors. It's just a great atmosphere for everybody involved. Other programs may be so high intensity they don't want kids around, but for our prorgram its a good thing. Its not that we're laid back, but we're comfortable having family around."
Reynolds said that one day during a water break, he looked over to check on his 9-year-old, John David, who was standing on top of the five-man blocking sled pretending to be Jack Sparrow from the movie "Pirates of the Caribbean."
Robbins' son Sawyer, a fifth-grader, can be seen during games wearing a headset, pacing the sideline and encouraging the players. Cardwell's younger son, Jack, is one of the first to lead the team onto the field through the spirit line each Friday night.
Besides a full day of teaching, high school coaches also spend hours daily at practice, studying video or making sure every player has a ride home, meaning it's not uncommon for them to spend more time with other people's kids than their own. As the younger players began tagging along with their coaching dads, Reynolds encouraged the rest of his staff to bring their sons to practice each day.
The extra family time does nothing to take away from the Buccaneers' intensity on the field. They are the only team in the area currently ranked No. 1 in the state in their respective classification and to have already secured a district championship. And they're winning games by an average of 30-7.
"It's actually pretty cool to see all of them running around in their jerseys at practice or before a game," said Jim Cardwell, who is 13-1 as the Bucs' starting quarterback. "I know how special it is for me to get to be with my dad every day at practice, so I'm sure it's the same even for the younger guys.
"I've been going to Boyd-Buchanan games since I was 4, and I remember how much I looked up to the varsity players as a kid. It's a big deal knowing those kids are always watching us. We want to act and play in a way that makes us positive role models for them. Its really just another reason why playing here is so special."
Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 20 years, starting at the News-Free Press as a 19-year-old reporter. He has been with the Times Free Press since its inception and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers in the nation ...