Prep Football

Cedar Rapids Washington's Justin Scherrman bleeds "red and blue"

Junior shares love of football and Warrior pride with his dad, a defensive assistant

Cedar Rapids Washington's Justin Scherrman (16) drives Cedar Rapids Jefferson's Jamarre Robinson (26) out of bounds during the second half of play at Kingston Stadium on Friday, September 14, 2018. (Justin Torner/Freelance for The Gazette)
Cedar Rapids Washington's Justin Scherrman (16) drives Cedar Rapids Jefferson's Jamarre Robinson (26) out of bounds during the second half of play at Kingston Stadium on Friday, September 14, 2018. (Justin Torner/Freelance for The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Justin Scherrman has been immersed in Cedar Rapids Washington athletics for as long as he can remember.

He tagged along with his dad, Frank, who has spent the last 25 years coaching various sports and teaching at the school. The second of four siblings also watched older brother, Jared, play football for the Warriors.

“When my older brother was there and I wasn’t, I was a little jealous,” Justin said. “I thought it was so great. Being around in the hallways when I was younger with my dad. I loved the atmosphere at Washington. It’s awesome. Everything about it just pulls me in. I really love it.”

Scherrman has gone from Junior Warriors to varsity starter for Washington, sharing the experience with his dad and defensive assistant coach. They will be together when the Warriors host Dubuque Hempstead Thursday night at Kingston Stadium for non-district action, beginning at 7:15 p.m.

“When it comes down to it, he really does bleed red and blue,” Frank said. “It’s kind of a part of their DNA. When the game is on the line, they will give it everything they have to help their teammates.”

The Scherrmans share a bond in football and the Washington community. Frank has been a longtime assistant for three head coaches. Jared is in his sophomore season at Wartburg. Justin is in his second season as a varsity receiver and defensive back, getting called up last season.

“We’re always around each other now,” Justin said. “Every day. Last year, I had him in class and that was pretty fun. We like the same subjects in that matter.

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“Football has definitely been a big part of him, my brother and all of us getting along pretty well.”

The father and son dynamic is common in sports, especially football. The ability to separate the parent/child and coach/athlete roles can be tricky. Frank admits to being a little tougher on Justin than other players, which isn’t rare.

He has avoided directly coaching either son. He worked with defensive backs when Jared played linebacker. The eldest Scherrman coaches linebackers with Justin at safety.

“It just worked out like that,” Frank said. “I think it is good for me and for them. They are getting coached in their positions by other coaches and I’m just another assistant.”

The duo have similar extroverted and vocal personalities. This can cause occasional friction when they refuse to give in during a disagreement. In the end, father knows best.

“We’re both pretty stubborn,” Justin said. “I accept the fact that he has so much more experience than I do. Even if I think I’m right, I have to take into account he’s been doing this a whole lot longer than I have. At the end of the day, he’s always right and I’m always learning.”

Frank has seen the ill-effects of players dealing with overbearing parents. He is determined to make time for family meals, including his daughters Jenna, a freshman at Washington, and Jolene.

The goal is to be available if Justin wants to discuss football at home, but he is willing to share his thoughts whenever asked. Justin is more apt to talk football at home than the more quiet and observant Jared.

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“There isn’t a big projector in the basement where we sit and watch,” Frank said with a laugh. “I will watch the film as a coach. … I really left it open to them. I’m here if you want to talk about it but we don’t have to.”

Justin was second in tackles last season among returners, trailing senior Josh Bliss. He tallied 27 stops, including five solo tackles for loss, and an interception. Justin also had 130 receiving yards and a touchdown on eight catches.

He made his offensive debut in last year’s loss to Hempstead, even playing some snaps at quarterback. Justin wasn’t expecting to play but got the chance he waited for since he was the team’s ball boy.

“It was pretty sweet,” Justin said. “It was pretty exciting. I was worried but it was awesome.”

The following week a little dad emerged from coach during the game. Frank watched from his spot in the press box when Justin scored his first varsity TD, hauling in an 11-yard pass.

“I was sitting there and kind of looked up, saw the play develop and we scored,” Frank said. “All of a sudden, I looked and was like, ‘Aw, hell, that was my kid.’ When you’re all alone in the booth you can smile to yourself and have a little bit of a reaction that you might not have on the sideline.”

Justin said he focused on adapting to the speed of a higher level. He worked on that through the summer, attempting to make quicker decisions and being faster on both sides of the ball.

Frank has been impressed with his son’s resilience. Justin played the final third of the season with a torn labrum that had to be surgically repaired in the offseason.

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“He has some tenacity to him,” Frank said. “He’s a pretty tough kid. He’s a competitor.”

Scherrman has tried to establish himself as a leader this season. The Warriors are trying to return to the playoffs, missing last season with a 4-5 record. Washington is looking to rebound after a lopsided 56-7 loss at the hands of Cedar Rapids Prairie.

“It’s nice to play an opponent like Prairie, who is that good, right off the bat, in my opinion,” Justin said. “They gave us a punch in the mouth and now we have to bounce back. I really think our guys will be able to do that this year.”

 Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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