The Mountain View High School football team fell one game short of completing the perfect season. Their only loss came in a nail-biting Oregon 5A championship game.
The Cougars magical season will leave lasting memories for all. For head coach Brian Crum and his son, starting senior quarterback Connor Crum, the memories will be even sweeter.
The player-coach, father-son dynamic is nothing new for the Crums. Brian started coaching Connor when he was a little kid. Baseball, basketball, football. You name it, Brian was on the sidelines.
“He’s never known any different. He never has. I’ve coached him since he was four years old,” Brian said. “I’m super lucky that he’s let me coach because some kids don’t.”
For the past 16 years, Brian has coached football at Mountain View High School — 12 of those as the head coach. During all of those years, Connor was at his side.
“Riding the bus and, you know, being the ball boy or the waterboy or running around the locker room like a little rug rat,” Brian said.
As a wide-eyed kid. Connor dreamed that one day he’d be the one putting on the shoulder pads and playing ball for his dad.
“I grew up coming to everything and watching him coach and trying to be a part of everything,” Connor said.
But before he had the chance to become a high school football player, adversity would strike Connor and the Crum family. In seventh grade, Connor was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
“He got out of the hospital on day three at about 2:00, and he was at basketball practice that night at 7:00,” Brian said.
The pandemic turned his freshman year at Mountain View upside down. And then in 2022, the Crums lost their mother and wife to an autoimmune disease.
“She’d definitely be super proud of us right now. We know she’ll be watching from above and just, you know, play for her and just know she’s super proud,” Connor said.
“She’s watching. She’s been watching us all year,” Brian said.
But through adversity, heartache and challenges, the Crums stuck together and their bond forged tighter.
“Certainly grieved and felt it powerfully. At the same time, you know, made our family tighter and closer,” Brian said.
That bond carried over to the field. And in 2023, Brian got to live out every dad’s dream. Connor, along with his best buddies and teammates that had grown up hanging around the Crum household, were now a talented bunch of senior football players and were ready to lead the Cougars.
“I’ve coached a lot of these kids since they were in fourth and fifth grade in multiple sports, basketball and baseball and football as well,” Brian said.
Connor and the boys did something special. They began reeling off wins, one after another. And Connor was living out his boyhood dreams with his best friends by his side.
“I love this group of guys we got. I’ve had just so much fun with them every day. Practice. Different games. It’s been awesome,” Connor said.
Mountain View entered the 5A playoffs undefeated and the magical season continued.
“This was a team that was special and we knew that. But I don’t think anybody knew, including even our coaches, that we were going to be as good as we were,” Brian said.
The Cougars hosted and won their first two playoff games by a combined score of 87-29 before dominating the state semifinal on a neutral field, beating Silverton 42-19.
“That was when I think it kind of dawned on a lot of us. ‘We’re good. We’re really good,'” Brian said.
But the fairytale Hollywood ending wasn’t to be. The Cougars lost their final game of the season in the state championship, falling to Wilsonville 29-23.
“We were ourselves. And on that night, it just wasn’t quite enough,” Brian said.
“It was crushing,” Connor said.
The heartache of defeat and the finality of their time together as coach and son, father and quarterback.
“Of course there were tears because that’s the last time we’re going to do that situation together,” Brian said.
But now, three weeks later, that sting and that heartache are already being replaced with the realization that they truly accomplished something special together.
“Super proud,” Brian said. “I don’t even know if I can express it the right way. Just you feel it, right? It’s one of those things you feel and it’s something I’ll never forget, that’s for sure,” Brian said.
“It’s awesome being able to do it with my dad, with all my brothers and teammates. It’s amazing,” Connor said.
The memories will last a lifetime. The disappointment and the pain will fade.
“You know, if you would have asked me ten years ago, what would I have hoped for? Yeah,” Brian said.