COLFAX – A thick aroma of burnt bacon hung like a fog when Colfax football coach Mike Morgan arrived home after a game earlier this season.
Unbeknownst to Morgan, his son, Kellen, and Alex Teade, both three-year starters, had stopped by the store and bought a pound of bacon to appease their postgame hunger.
When the coach walked into the kitchen, he found the boys standing in front of the stove with their shirts off. Sure enough, they had thought of a way to make cooking bacon a competition.
Morgan could hear the sound of grease popping in the skillet.
The boys were trying to see who could endure the sting of grease landing on their torsos.
“I lost. I’ll admit it,” said Teade, a two-way starter at quarterback and cornerback.
“I ate more bacon,” said Kellen, a two-way starter at tight end and safety.
“We just find ways to make things a competition,” Teade said. “Both of us hate losing.”
“When I came around the corner into the kitchen, the boys were laughing like a bunch of school girls,” the coach said. “As I’ve said since they were little-bitty boys, they’ve always been doing stuff like this. I just remembered I smiled and said boys will be boys. Nothing surprises me anymore about these two.”
On the Morgans’ refrigerator is a picture of the 2001 Colfax state championship football team as it celebrated following its final win at the Tacoma Dome. Also in the photo were third-graders Kellen and Alex. They were the team’s ball boys.
They’ve been best friends since kindergarten. They shared the same class in all but one grade through sixth grade.
They know each other so well, in fact, that they often finish each other’s sentences. Not only have they played football together since third grade, they’ve also played basketball and baseball nearly the same length of time.
They’ll start together in basketball this year and they complete the Bulldogs’ pitcher/catcher battery in baseball.
All three teams advanced to state last year – the football and baseball teams lost in state championship games and the basketball team took eighth.
The one thing that’s eluded them, though, is a state title. It’s almost heresy in Colfax for an athlete not to have some relationship with a state championship. Teade’s siblings, for example, have been part of state titles in football, volleyball and girls basketball. Kellen’s dad has coached a state title team.
The boys want their own state title, and it could happen in football. Colfax (8-0) has been ranked No. 1 all season, and will go into the postseason heavily favored to complete a title journey the Bulldogs thought they should have celebrated last fall, which ended with a loss to Adna.
Mike Morgan, a quarterback when he played at Palouse in the early 1980s, has been blessed to have the left-handed Teade leading a diverse offense.
“He understands the game plan so well. He’s a student of the game,” Morgan said. “He doesn’t put us in bad situations.”
Morgan’s son is essentially the quarterback of the defense. Kellen led the team in tackles last year and is among the leaders again this season.
“I quite literally have two quarterbacks,” the coach said. “Kellen calls all of our defensive signals.”
Together they’re a handful for opposing offenses. They play on the same side of the field.
“Kellen has a nose for the ball. He’s very instinctive,” his father said. “He’s not a super athlete – he’s not fast, you could set a sun dial by him – but he’s a smart kid, a coach’s son. He’s been watching film with me since he was little.”
Teade is one of the fastest players on the team. That frees up Kellen to gamble a bit on defense.
Often when Mike Morgan calls a pass play, Teade will eventually find his buddy – even if he’s not the primary receiver.
“They know where each other are out there all the time,” the coach said.
The boys said it’s something akin to a sixth sense.
“That’s what our moms have called it for a long time,” Teade said.
Teade carries a 3.9 grade-point average and is ranked third in his class. Morgan has a 3.3 GPA.
They both want to go to college. Teade is getting some interest from smaller schools and Morgan wants to follow in his father’s footsteps. He plans to attend Eastern Washington University and become a music teacher.
“I want to teach band and coach football like my dad,” he said.
Mike Morgan kept the picture of the 2001 state title team that included the ball boys on his refrigerator for a reason.
“I wanted it to be a reminder to the boys,” he said. “You’ve got to have a goal.”
The boys want to place a new picture, taken the first weekend in December in Tacoma, next to the old photo.