It was the dream of a little boy at the time.
Eight-year-old Gunnar Amos had a T-shirt on with a statement about the 2012 Vikings being state champs. He ran out on the field after a game – as was custom for him, his mom and sister to do – to give dad, CdA head football coach Shawn Amos, a hug – win or lose.
It caught the attention of a sportswriter at the time. He asked Shawn Amos what was significant about the year.
The coach pointed out it would be Gunnar’s junior year, the first season he would likely start, and he’d play with his cousins.
The shirt almost proved prophetic. The Viks lost to Madison in a wildly entertaining state final last fall.
Coeur d’Alene senior quarterback Gunnar Amos is 10 years removed from that time. He’s sure the shirt is still around because “my mom is a hoarder and keeps everything.”
Amos is like most sons of coaches. He’s known nothing but football since his earliest memories.
He remembers tagging along with dad to school for practice and bringing some friends with him. They’d play on the practice blocking pads and then sneak into the school to spy on the janitors.
The little boy has grown up in many ways. At 6-foot-1 he’s six inches taller than his dad. “I passed him in the sixth grade,” Gunnar said, smiling.
Gunnar was the backup quarterback two years ago when CdA won its second straight state championship. He didn’t play much that year because Chad Chalich, a starter as a redshirt freshman at the University of Idaho, was ahead of him.
The week of the state title game, though, Gunnar prepared as if he would start. Chalich had suffered a fracture in his foot the week before and was in a cast.
Chalich cut the cast off the day of the title game and had one of those for-the-ages performances as CdA snared back-to-back titles.
Gunnar Amos was on the roster, but the state title didn’t feel like his. That explains why he wants one of his own.
Shawn Amos purposely put together the toughest schedule he could to prepare this year’s team. The Viks are playing their third road game out of their first four games, and a third game that’s so far away that it requires a charter bus.
So the coach/father cautions his son about his ultimate goal.
“I want him to enjoy the journey and not think so much about the destination,” the coach said.
Shawn Amos is trying to enjoy the small steps along the way, too. After all, it’s his final season coaching his son. So he can’t help but have an extra emotional tie to this year.
Had Shawn Amos had his way, his son would have been named Payton. Yes, after that Payton – Walter Payton, Shawn’s all-time favorite football player.
But Shawn’s wife, Kelly, put the kibosh on that idea quickly. She came up with the name Gunnar.
“It means bold warrior,” Kelly said. “There’s no way Shawn was going to have a say in naming his son.”
She never envisioned Gunnar would be a quarterback or, for that matter, a Viking. When he was born, Shawn was teaching and coaching in Kellogg.
Kelly has had fun with it over the years.
On home game days, she puts out a booster sign in her yard that says there will be a Gun Show at Viking Field. A slang term for the position her son plays is gunslinger. And the Vikings run their offense out of a shotgun formation.
More than the wins and the statistics, what Shawn Amos has enjoyed watching is his son become a young man.
“He’s a guy that people want to follow,” he said.
Gunnar gives his dad credit for that.
“Dad has always prepared me for a leadership role,” Gunnar said.
Gunnar Amos is an honors student with a 3.55 grade-point average. His father never had to drill into his head that school was important. He gravitated to that on his own.
Just like Gunnar Amos gravitated to wanting to be the best athlete he could be. Dad never had to wake him up and prod him to get to the weight room.
It was Gunnar Amos, the winter of his sophomore year, who decided that the only way he was going to become a better passer – and be able to follow a talented quarterback like Chalich – was to give up basketball and throw 1,000 passes a day.
And Amos did that.
He’ll admit that he doesn’t have the most fluid throwing motion. He probably wasn’t born to be a quarterback, but he’s made himself into one. He has the speed of a running back or wide receiver.
In fact, his abilities would fit nicely into an option system in college. Two of his offers have come from schools using option attacks – Army and Weber State.
He also has offers as an athlete from Idaho State and Idaho. And Montana, Eastern Washington, Washington State, Utah State, Wyoming and North Dakota State, also have expressed interest.
“I’m not the natural thrower Chad is. I’ve had to really fine tune my mechanics,” Amos said.
Said dad: “I don’t know of any kid who has put in more time to be the athlete he is. He’s very dedicated. He was in the weight room as soon as he was able to walk.”
His college destination will take care of itself in time. Right now he’s got more important business – getting himself and his team prepared for the drive to a league championship and state berth.
To that end, he wasn’t happy with his effort in CdA’s loss to Skyline last Friday. His two interceptions were returned for touchdowns.
After the game, he asked to speak with his dad privately. They stepped outside his office.
“He just told me to learn from it and have a great week of practice this week,” Gunnar said.
Said dad: “You never play as well as you think you did and you never play as poorly as you think you did.”
Added son: “I’ll be a better quarterback by going through this adversity. We’ve showed glimpses of how good we can be. We just need to fix a few things.”
Football has been the vehicle for a special relationship between father and son.
“He understands the game has brought him a lot of glory,” Shawn Amos said. “It’s going to get his college education paid for, too. Football will go away someday. What I’m most proud of is the young man he’s become.”