PUYALLUP - Player-coach relationships can be volatile without the added burden of son-father complications.
The relationship between Puyallup High School quarterback Damon Huard and Viking Coach Mike Huard is coming apart at the seams.
It's been shredded by laughter.
If there are any rifts between Damon, projected as the state's most-recruited prospect, and his father, they might not ever surface from under the spirited sparring between the two.
``I don't say too much to him at home,'' the elder Huard started to say during a post-practice interview at Puyallup's Sparks Stadium.
``About football?'' Damon interrupted quizzically.
``About you screwing up on the field,'' the elder Huard corrected.
Football is the first and last subject discussed in the Huard home, Damon said.
``I can't even talk to girls on the phone,'' he said. ``It's football, football, football. It never ends.''
Puyallup and the rest of the state's prep football teams will kick off the 1990 season this weekend. Huard heads a potentially strong state recruiting crop heavy with linemen and defensive types.
Mike Huard said football has helped hold his family together. ``Football has been our thing, so to speak,'' he said. ``I have Damon for football, but that's about all I see of him.
``We did go halibut fishing recently, though,'' Huard said. ``Damon caught the biggest one on the boat, although the quarterback for Neah Bay, a little tiny kid, had to help him get it in the boat. Damon got too tired.''
In addition to being a football standout, Damon, 6 feet 4 and 215 pounds, earned all-South Puget Sound League honors in basketball.
But scouts took note of the numbers Damon put up during the 1989 football season, when he completed 123 of 216 passes for 2,275 yards and 20 touchdowns. He also ran for eight TDs.
As a sophomore, Damon played tight end for the Vikings. That season, he caught 40 passes thrown by Billy Joe Hobert, now a University of Washington quarterback.
Damon has heard from colleges that might make up a a top-10 national poll: Miami, Michigan, Notre Dame, Tennessee, USC, UCLA and Washington. Husky coaches got a great view of him at this summer's UW camp for prep players, where he was named the outstanding quarterback.
Washington State, Arizona State, Oregon and Stanford are among the other schools that have expressed an interest in Damon, who already has passed the Scholastic Aptitude Test and has better than a 3.0 grade-point average.
Damon has not narrowed the field yet, but his brothers have.
Brock, who will play quarterback in junior high this season, prefers someplace exotic, such as Miami. Luke wants big brother to stay closer to home and play for Oregon, WSU or Washington.
``I'm just looking for a team that throws the ball, has a good coach and good academics,'' Damon said.
He said the visits should not hurt his basketball performance. ``The visits will be mostly on weekends,'' he said. ``We play most of our games during the week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays.''
Although many youths crave the limelight, Damon doesn't care much for all the recruiting hubbub - the phone calls, the letters, and visits from the press.
``I don't know; it's kind of bugging me,'' Damon said. ``It puts a lot of pressure on me. I just want to play football.''
His father doesn't care much for the recruiting process either, but he's been through it before. After the 1988 season, he encountered a swarm of college recruiters seeking the signatures of three Puyallup players - Hobert and towering tackles Tom Gallagher (UW) and Steve Wolf (WSU).
Huard said when Hobert and company were recruited, letters from interested colleges almost always were addressed to ``Football Coach, Puyallup High School.'' Now all the letters are addressed to ``Mike Huard, Puyallup High School.''
``And there's always a little personal note attached because I'm the recruit's father and coach,'' Huard said. ``They like to talk to me a little bit more than in the past because they are trying to get on my good side a little bit more than if I was just the coach.''
So where does dad, who played at Central Washington, want his son to go to college?
``To whoever gives me the biggest contract,'' Coach Huard said, tongue planted firmly in his pudgy cheek. He said several rumors of a father-son package have floated back to him.
``One has Lou Holtz (Notre Dame coach) flying out after the season to offer me a job. Another has me taking a job at Washington State,'' said the coach. ``It's funny that people are saying this stuff.''
Besides, he says, there no guarantee Damon would follow him if he were given a collegiate position.
``When he gets away from me, he'll probably hustle and respond better to another coach . . .'' he said. ``I sure hope he does.''
STATE'S TOP 15
- LB Tom Ackerman, Nooksack Valley, 6-4, 225.
-- LB Jeff Bocket, Prairie, 6-4, 220.
-- TE Mark Bruener, Aberdeen, 6-5, 225.
-- OL Aaron Burt Olympia, 6-3, 257.
-- TE/DE Ernie Conwell, Kentwood, 6-3, 220.
-- LB Demetrius Devers, Garfield, 6-2, 220.
-- LB Shawn Deeds, South Kitsap, 6-5, 232.
-- OL Chad Eaton, Rogers, 6-4, 265.
-- QB Damon Huard, Puyallup, 6-4, 210.
-- OL Ryan Leahy, Eisenhower, 6-5, 245.
-- DB/WR Tommy McCoy, Franklin, 5-11, 195.
-- RB Singor Mobley, Curtis, 5-11, 175.
-- WR Noah Parks, Timberline, 6-4, 205.
-- LB Brian Smith, Curtis, 5-10, 215.
-- DL Justin Thomas, Gonzaga Prep, 6-5, 245.
-- RB Richard Thomas Kentwood, 5-10, 195.
- John Peoples