KJ Pollock became Northside’s starting quarterback even as his head coaching father voted against it.
“We put him in in the second quarter of our second game last year and he took us down the field,” coach Kendrick Pollock said. “Then come Sunday in our coaches meeting, all of our coaches voted for him to be the starter, except for me, because I didn’t think he was ready.”
But out of necessity, KJ received what his dad called “on-the-job training,” in the Monarchs’ 34-7 loss to New Hanover last year on Aug. 27.
Since that day, KJ has been the man calling the signals, following in the footsteps of his father.
Kendrick also played quarterback, but at Jacksonville.
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As a sophomore, he was brought up to varsity in 1994, the same year the Cardinals advanced to the state final. He became a senior starter and then played for the Jacksonville Raiders, a now defunct semi-pro team that existent in the early 2000s. Kendrick was named to the Mason-Dixon Football League Hall of Fame in 2011.
“When I watch film of my dad, I’m like ‘No way that’s him,’” KJ said. “It gets me going knowing what he did as a player.”
KJ started playing football when he was 7 years old. He was too big to play in the tackle leagues, so he played flag football. It didn’t take long for him to show off his strong arm, a skill that was developed by him throwing high school-sized balls with his father at a young age.
“The ball was about the size as him at the time,” Kendrick said.
When asked if he was better than his father, KJ smiled, covered his mouth with his hand to block Kendrick’s vision and agreed that his quarterback skills were superior to his dad’s. KJ threw for 777 yards and six touchdowns last year for the Monarchs, who struggled to an 0-10 season.
Even his father had to concede that his son had the upper hand in some things.
“He throws a better ball than I did when I was his age,” Kendrick said. “He is also bigger than I was at his age. At 15, I was 5-foot-6, 140-pounds and he is 6-foot-2, 240-pounds. Personality wise, we are both quiet leaders who lead by example, but I was a little fiery than he is and I would step up and say something sometimes. He will develop that in time.”
Kendrick has had a love for football since he was young and he always wanted to stay involved with the game. KJ, meanwhile, enjoys playing the sport and wants to pursue a future in it, but is also interested in going into web designing.
“If he came to me today and said ‘Dad, I don’t want to play football any more,’ it would hurt, but as long as he was doing something positive, I would be OK with it,” Kendrick said.
KJ, however, doesn’t feel the pressure of being the son of a former quarterback or having his father as his head coach. Kendrick acknowledged that he is hard on his son and sometimes gives KJ stronger reinforcement that he wouldn’t give other players.
The soft-spoken junior, said he doesn’t get rattled being held to a higher standard because he is the coach’s son.
“My dad expects a lot from me,” KJ said. “It’s hard, but I am used to it.”
On the field or in the school hallways, Kendrick is coach to KJ. But at the house, he is dad. The two compartments don’t often mix.
“KJ is still 15 and he still likes to play Fortnite, NBA 2K and other video games with his friends,” Kendrick said. “Sometimes I wish he would watch a little more film, but we don’t talk football in the house unless he brings it up.
For Kendrick, KJ is just another one of the players. He has to earn his spot and work to keep it.
“Things are fair with KJ just like they are with everyone else on the team,” Kendrick said. “If somebody comes in that’s better than him, he will sit and watch, find another position to play or compete to try to get it back. That’s how it is across the board here at Northside.”
Chris Miller can be contacted via email at email@example.com. Follow him on twitter @jdnsports.
This article originally appeared on The Daily News: How Northside quarterback deals with father being football coach