CEDAR RAPIDS — This is how much football is engrained in the Duane and Sherry Schulte household.
Duane, the longtime head coach at Cedar Rapids Xavier, walked into their bedroom earlier this fall on a Sunday afternoon, where daughter, Hope, was doing school homework.
Proud of her for being so dutiful in her studies, Schulte went to leave, only to notice something that made him kind of do a double take.
“I saw that the TV was on, and she was watching NFL games,” Schulte said with a grin. “She’s all by herself watching football.”
The top-ranked Saints play No. 3 Solon in a highly anticipated Class 3A state football playoff semifinal Thursday night at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:21.
Crazy how much the programs mirror each other: traditional powers who have won state championships and are led by graduates. Schulte technically went to Cedar Rapids LaSalle High School, which merged with Cedar Rapids Regis to create Xavier in the 1990s, but he’s just as emotionally invested in his program as any graduate would be.
Solon’s Kevin Miller was an outstanding quarterback for his alma mater, just like Schulte. The coaches’ respective teams are 11-0 this season and have dominated their opponents.
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Their QBs are their sons: junior Quinn Schulte for Xavier and sophomore Cam Miller for Solon. The similarities are uncanny.
“I never thought about all that, actually,” Schulte said. “I know Kevin pretty well, have talked to him over the years about football stuff. Good guy. We get along well.”
“They pride themselves on playing tough and hard and physical,” Miller said. “They play great defense. That’s kind of what we’re about as well. We are very similar in many respects.”
One difference is this is the third son Schulte has had the pleasure of coaching. Miller is going through this father-son, coaching thing for the first time.
Reggie Schulte played quarterback for Xavier and is a senior at the University of Northern Iowa. Bryce Schulte also was a Saints QB and is a freshman at Iowa.
Quinn actually played for his dad last season as a receiver and defensive back. He has over 1,700 yards and 29 touchdowns rushing and passing this season.
“It’s just been a blessing,” Quinn Schulte said. “Obviously, Reggie and Bryce played under him growing up, too, To be able to watch them play for my dad, it feels like I’m in the same boat, I guess. It was good because I’d always be around the house, so when they’d talk, I’d be able to listen in on stuff they were talking about. It’s kind of the same concepts we’re going over (now).”
Duane Schulte said he has learned to enjoy the experience even more the third time around.
“It has been awesome, to be honest with you,” he said. “I’ve tried to appreciate it more. Quinn has been fun to coach. He’s got a lot of moxie to him, a great mix of Reggie and Bryce. Then he has his own attributes, too. More than anything else, though, he has been fun to watch and fun to be around. He’s a good kid.”
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Despite his youth, Cam Miller has directed a potent Solon offensive attack with aplomb, throwing for 1,700 yards and 24 TDs. He also has a shiny completion percentage of 61.3 percent.
Just like Quinn Schulte, his first memories are of being a waterboy for his dad’s teams. The dream always was to be one of those players to which he handed a water bottle on the sideline.
“My dad and I argue quite a bit sometimes, but, at the same time, it has been awesome,” Cam Miller said. “Both minds think the same. Both of us think the same, (about) passing and everything. He can yell at me all the time, and I’ll just take it because it’s my dad, and I don’t ever take it personal.”
Kevin Miller said football talk between he and Cam never carries over to home unless Cam initiates it. A bad practice one day before Solon’s first game led to Kevin venting at his son, with Cam venting right back at his dad.
They made a pact right there that would never happen again.
“And I think that’s best,” Cam said. “He doesn’t want to force football on me. So whenever I want to talk about it, we talk about it. That’s the way I think it should be.”
“It is special to me to be able to coach my son,” Kevin Miller said. “For a long period of time, my family has made a lot of sacrifices. I’m here, my wife (Nichole) is at home, my daughter (McKenna) is at home, my son is at home. Now to have him as part of the program is special to me. We are able to develop a different bond, that coach-player relationship.
“Yes, there are times I am hard on him, but he knows I am going to hold him accountable. At the end of the day, whether we are here or at home, I am going to hold him to a high standard. He understands that. Sometimes I have to be pretty direct in order for that message to be received.”
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