Tim Brennan would prefer no one knew about the approaching milestone.
The longtime Bishop Kelly High football coach enters Friday’s home game against Vallivue sitting on 199 career victories. A win gives him 200, a nice, round number to add to his mile-long list of accomplishments on the Knights’ sideline.
I dialed him up Tuesday evening for an interview, and Brennan could only groan.
“Nobody had said anything to me,” Brennan said. “I’m sure my wife knows, but she knows not to say anything.”
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Sorry, Tim. Whether it comes Friday night (more on that later), next week or the week after, this is too big of a landmark to go overlooked.
A quick recap of Brennan’s resume:
Six state championships, the third most since the Idaho High School Activities Association playoffs began in 1977.
Four undefeated seasons.
11 league championships in 22 years at BK.
Three state titles in a row from 2013-15. Only three other Idaho football coaches have won three or more in a row.
A career record of 199-70, good for a .739 winning percentage, the best in the 5A or 4A SIC.
And perhaps most tellingly, four straight state academic titles in a row.
Bishop Kelly Athletic Director Tom Shanahan said that shows how Brennan runs his program. Rarely does a football player come into Shanahan’s office in trouble. He can count on Brennan to run a tight ship, making sure his team always remains humble, disciplined and on time for Friday Mass.
For all his expertise with Xs and Os, Shanahan said Brennan separates himself with his ability to connect with players. Any success starts with building relationships, and Shanahan said Brennan’s the best he’s ever seen at forging those bonds.
“Kids don’t really care how much you know until they know how much you care,” Shanahan said. “If kids know you honestly care about them, they’ll go through a brick wall for you. He really gets the most out of his team.”
Skyview coach David Young has witnessed that up close and personal. Young’s Hawks and Brennan’s Knights battled for control of the SIC for many of the past 15 years. The two started as rivals. But Young said as the years progressed and they got to know each at coach’s clinics and camps, a friendship grew, and so did his admiration.
While football evolves toward spread offenses and quarterbacks slinging balls all over the field, Brennan remains old school with his power-I running game. Young always knew he could count on a smart, organized and physical opponent every time he faced Bishop Kelly.
“You knew you were always going to get some kind of power run game, and it was going to be a physical beating, a fight all night,” Young said. “Their O-line, even if they were undersized, they worked so hard for Jack Parker and Tim. They just believed. They believed in the system.”
Brennan deflects any credit. The 1977 BK grad said he’s just the lucky guy surrounded by great players, brilliant assistant coaches and a top-notch school administration. He’ll quickly point out he’s the only coach in Idaho history to go 0-10 during his lone season in Caldwell.
“It’s not about me,” Brennan said. “It’s about Bishop Kelly and the other schools that I’ve been at. It’s an accomplishment, but it’s an accomplishment for our program.”
Instead, Brennan focuses on the relationships he’s built with players over the years. More than all the wins and state title banners, those remain the memories he holds closest, the fuel that still drives him at 59 years old.
Tom Bleymaier, a 2005 BK grad, helped Brennan win his 100th game as a senior. Brennan poo-pooed any accolades then too, promising the Knights they could celebrate after win No. 105, which came later that fall with a state title.
Fourteen years later, Brennan’s lessons still ring in his ears.
“He’s had a huge impact,” Bleymaier said. “It’s about focusing on what’s important, always doing the things the right way, doing things to the finish. I still think of words or things he said to us on the field and use them in my everyday life and career.”
Forget 200 wins. Knowing Brennan, that’s the highest honor anyone could give him.
Eagle at Borah, 7 p.m. (Thursday)
It’s time to find out whether Borah is for real.
The Lions entered the season with sky-high expectations. Coaches in the 5A SIC picked Borah fourth in the league’s preseason poll, ranking them ahead of Eagle and upsetting the conference’s traditional “Big Four” power structure.
Borah returns loads of explosive talent on both sides of the ball. But it has yet to prove it can win big games when they count the most. The Lions squandered a chance to win their 5A SIC pod outright last year, laying an egg the final week of the season with a 41-7 loss at Eagle that created a three-way coin flip for playoff seeding. Borah then fell in the first round of the playoffs the next week.
Thursday provides an opportunity to get even and prove Borah is no longer a paper tiger, or Lion in this case.
“I think we’ll show them what we’re made of,” Borah senior quarterback Jake Standlee said. “People still underestimate us. I think we have something to prove.”
Eagle starts the season young and looking to fill holes all over the field. But the Mustangs took exception to their middle-of-the-pack spot in the coaches’ poll, and they showed why the 5A SIC crown always run through Eagle in an opening 43-21 win at Meridian.
Eagle racked up 502 yards of offense, showcasing its mix of speed all over the field. And sophomore quarterback Ben Ford was a revelation in his first game at the position, finishing with 300 total yards himself.
Borah showcased its own dynamic offense last week in a 47-13 rout at Skyview that wasn’t as close as the score indicated. But most worrisome for the rest of the SIC, the Lions’ defense continued its ballhawking ways with four turnovers a year after leading the league with 28 takeaways.
The Lions can send a wakeup call to the state with a win Thursday. With their air raid attack and stout defense, the rest of the state better get ready.
Borah 30, Eagle 27
Capital at Mountain View, 7 p.m.
Mountain View fell short in the season-opening Battle of the Mountains, losing 16-6 at Rocky Mountain as mental errors haunted the Mavericks.
A holding call wiped out a touchdown. Blake Jablonski stepped out at the 1-yard line on a kick return, setting up a safety. And a lineman downfield erased a key third-down conversion as Mountain View rallied late and had the Grizzlies on their heels.
“Always in a big game, whoever makes fewer mistakes is going to win,” Mountain View coach Judd Benedick said last week. “And it’s magnified in the very first game of the year.”
Don’t expect a repeat performance. Benedick ought to get the Mavericks ready for another key 5A SIC matchup with Capital.
Capital QB Ryan Hibbs picked up right where he left off last season, firing five TD passes in Week 1. But he’ll find tougher sledding against Mountain View, which is too proud to fall to 0-2.
Mountain View 34, Capital 30
Vallivue at Bishop Kelly, 7 p.m.
Brennan knows win No. 200 is no guarantee with Vallivue coming to town. The Falcons bring an experienced squad with eight starters back on offense and seven on defense. They ran over, around and through Canyon Ridge for 325 yards last week in a season-opening win.
Any game plan starts with slowing down junior QB Lan Larison, who can break down a defense with his arm or his feet. But Brennan said the Falcons have a dangerous group of weapons around him too.
“He’s going to make plays and we’ve got to limit them,” Brennan said. “But they’ve got other kids too. Vallivue is as good as they’ve been over the years.”
That may be true. But Bishop Kelly shut out many of those experienced Vallivue players last season too.
Bishop Kelly 29, Vallivue 14
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