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Pine Creek coach Todd Miller worked with quarterback T.J. Dennis during a recent practice. Photo by JERILEE BENNETT, THE GAZETTE

Palmer football coach Rod Baker and senior quarterback Andre Brown have it figured out. They need to get along for the team to succeed.

Broncos fans can appreciate that.

Over time, the time spent between player and coach can lead to a lifetime bond.

“You get to know each other real well,” Brown said after a quarterbacks meeting before practice. “You spend a lot of time together.”


“It’s not quite year-round, but it comes close when you start meeting in April and a season can last until November,” Pine Creek coach Todd Miller said. “You sit down with the quarterback and watch film with them. My philosophy is I want the QB to be an extension of me on the field, so he and I can get a relationship to where we’re seeing and thinking the same thing.”

That doesn’t include time in the weight room over the winter, or in class, since many coaches are also teachers, and other sports when some football coaches assist.

“You see them in the weight room all the time and you talk about things,” Baker said. “You get to know them as kids and get to know their families.”

“I can talk to him about anything, football, classes, life,” Brown said. “He and my dad talk all the time.”

All that time and the joy and sorrow of wins and losses adds up to a special bond.

“It’s football, but it goes beyond that,” Miller said. “We develop a trust we’ve developed over time spent together.”

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“I have a son and two daughters and it’s as close to that as I’ve experienced,” Miller said. “You spend a lot of time together and you really want to do well and you want that quarterback to enjoy success, too.”

That’s in sharp contrast to the business-like relationships many college and professional coaches have with their quarterbacks.

That simply won’t work in high school, Air Academy coach Mike Hillstrom said.

The pressure is too great for most teenagers to handle alone.

“All the eyes are on them," Hillstrom said. “Everyone in the whole stadium sees everything they do. Some kids handle it better than others. You have to be there for them. Some kids are naturally better at shaking things off, while others beat themselves up. You can’t let them do that in the middle of a game.”

The relationship between quarterback and coach doesn’t mean playing favorites. At Air Academy, two quarterbacks -- juniors Trent Riestahl and Jake DeRuyter -- are vying for No. 1.

The Kadets scrimmage Rampart and Sand Creek this weekend, when Hillstrom hopes the starter will emerge.

“I don’t have a problem rotating QBs," Hillstrom said. “If neither one steps up you can do that in high school. You go with your gut instinct, especially if both have a specific strength.”

Ultimately, the coach has to pick a quarterback that feels the same about winning that the coach does.

“A lot of times people think you’re crazy to put in that kind of time,” Miller said. “But when it comes down to it you don’t want to fail. Young men don’t want to fail and we’ve been blessed with guys willing to put the time in.”

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