IN THE HUDDLE: With NU football, it’s a family affair |

IN THE HUDDLE: With NU football, it’s a family affair

Over the years, Dave Humphers has always been quick to assert that Nevada Union football is more than a sports program.

He has always likened it to a family, where everyone takes care of each other.

Now, in his 27th season as an NU coach and his 20th as head coach, it has never made more sense. This campaign is the “perfect storm” where family, NU football, and tradition meet head on.

With no less than five coaches boasting offspring on this year’s squad, it has surely evolved into one of those tantalizingly unique, never-to-be-duplicated experiences … especially for the dads!

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance,” said coach Ernie Flores, who is surrounded by his sons Chris and Nick. “I will never get it again.”

This seems to be the unanimous sentiment of the fathers on the coaching staff, which includes Humphers, Flores, Curtis Smith, Dennis Houlihan and John Keith.

They all assert that this is truly “special.”

They also note one other aspect on which they all agree. They hold their sons to a higher standard. They expect more. There is no special pass.

Special privileges are non-existent.

Humphers was quick to note, “We are tougher on them than the other guys. It is intense, because our team comes first. My sons must win their jobs.

“It is real special to note how they are doing. I have been waiting a long time for it.”

Connor Keith, Blake Smith, Tyler Houlihan, Chris and Nick Flores, and Gabe and Hank Humphers are all valuable members of the team who play integral roles. They understand the pressure and the added dimension of having a “dad” as a coach on one of Northern California’s most well respected and powerful programs.

“It has its ups-and-downs,” Tyler Houlihan was quick to point out. “It makes me personally a lot better. He pushes me 10 times harder.”

Yet, there are some common bonds they all share. This has been a long time coming. They have approached it with great anticipation. It is part of a long time dream. It is both rewarding and enjoyable.

Chris Flores feels strongly about his time with dad, Ernie.

“I have been waiting since I was little to play on this team with Dad,” he said.

Gabe Humphers was quick to add, “Having him at home is great. He knows my dreams and aspirations.”

Let there be no doubt, there is always dialogue after the game. John and Connor Keith have an 8 p.m. Saturday date, when they watch the previous night’s telecast by TouchDown Productions on NCTV.

It is more intense. There is more at stake. It is one of those little slices of heaven.

“I have been coaching my son for years,” Curtis Smith concluded. “By far, this is the most fun.”

Last week was a major Miner conquest. They not only found their groove, they also executed in nearly every aspect of their 41-20 win at Ponderosa. Last season, week two was the only blemish in a section championship run.

What will this year bring, especially with such a tough schedule laden with stellar opponents?

If Nevada Union has one edge, it well may be the father-son connection on its sidelines. It truly presents an intriguing aspect of this formidable team’s gameplan.

Jim Adams lives in Nevada City, is a regular contributor to The Union and a broadcaster for TouchDown Productions. He may be reached via e-mail at

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