Hoover, Ala.--For Auburn commitment and Army All-American Ryan Pugh, having his father Tony on the sidelines with him is just something that is part of playing the game of football. Since he first started playing the game Ryan has been coached in some form or another by his father.
The time is now winding down in that part of their lives though as Ryan's senior season at Hoover High is nearing the halfway point and with it a chapter in the lives of both will be closed. Friday night before Hoover's game against Minor Pugh along with teammate Brandon Clear was named to the Army All-American Game in San Antonio, Tex. on Jan. 6. Tony Pugh says that the opportunity to have one final football experience with his son as a high school player is something both will cherish.
"We were all excited," Tony says. "We had talked about that during the spring after Bart got (Bart Eddins) to play in it last year. Him and Ryno had gotten to become pretty good friends. Tom Lemming interviewed Ryan in the spring and we were talking a few weeks later and he said ‘I got to play in the junior all-star game and I enjoyed it. It was one of the biggest things I got to do. It would be great if I got to play in the All-American game'.
"About a month ago they called at home and told us he had been selected. It was very exciting for him especially and as a parent any time they get excited I get excited. I was proud for him because I think he's done things the right way. I think he's worked hard and put a lot of time and effort into his football. It's good to see that pay off."
Tony and Ryan Pugh have a unique relationship and it has formed a lifelong bond the two can share.
For both the experience will put the cap on a journey that has had its ups and downs complete with moving to three different schools in Ryan's four years. Those things have made it tough at times but Tony says the relationship the two have bonded during those times is something that he can't explain how much it means to him.
"I don't know if you can put something like that into words," Tony says. "Just the meaning of being able to go through this every day with 99 percent of those times being great, every once in a while it's not but that's what life is about. We've had a great relationship. I think it's gotten even stronger because of football. He's moved to three schools and I'm not so sure that didn't bring us closer together as a parent and a son.
"I wouldn't give anything for the last four years. There have been some difficult times on us as a family but it's all worth it. It's worth is because you put your faith in God that he's doing the right thing for our family. I wouldn't change it any other way."
Ryan echoes those words from his father when talking about the experience he's shared with him over the years. This season both are part of one of the nation's top prep football programs at Hoover. That has been a different experience for both but the one thing they've had to lean on is each other. That is always how it's been for them and Ryan says that is one thing that makes his relationship with his father so unique.
"This will be the last year he gets to coach with me," Pugh says. "It has been a fun time. We've been together for four years with him coaching me. I'll definitely miss it. A lot of people don't get to go through what me and my dad went through for four years. It's not just the home life but also on the field together and during games together when we're both struggling at times and leaning on each other and depending on each other. Me and my dad have a real close relationship that maybe most fathers and sons don't have. I thank God for letting me be able to do this for four years. I'll never forget it."
Once the season is finished for the Bucs and the holidays are complete, the family will make the trip to Texas to put Ryan's high school career to bed. During a week in San Antonio there will be plenty of time for football and family and that's something that Tony says should make it a perfect week.
"There's not any better way to end an outstanding high school career," Tony says. "I think this game is becoming the game for high school football players to play in before they go to college. It's one of those deals where you can't wait to experience that week out there with him. I have talked to Liston Eddins and he was telling me it's a great week. I can't wait for that but of course on the other hand I kind of don't want to because you know the time with me and him is growing to an end. I know we'll have a great time out there."