Tuscola is keeping it all in the family

Tuscola is keeping it all in the family

TUSCOLA — Not all father and son football duos are created equal. Take Tuscola's Sementis and Pierces, for example.

Cale Sementi and Noah Pierce were both water and ball boys for the Warriors while dads Lenny Sementi and Pat Pierce worked under Stan Wienke and Rick Reinhart.

And both boys are now seniors for Tuscola (13-0) while their dads are assistants under Andy Romine. The two familial pairings also will play a role in today's 10 a.m. Class 1A state title game against Lena-Winslow (13-0) in DeKalb.

So maybe they are on a similar track. Well, not exactly. Just ask the coach-dads if they butt heads with their player-sons.

"No, honest to goodness no," Pat said. "Usually if I do, (Noah) has got it right."

"I'm probably tougher on my kids than I am on other players," Lenny admitted. "If (Romine) sees me going out there at Cale mad, he'll jump in and go get Cale before I get to Cale to defuse the situation."

Although the level of intensity on the gridiron differs between the Sementis and Pierces, both pairs have great relationships and are enjoying the Warriors' ride to a first state final appearance since 2011.

"This year's definitely different than last year," Noah said. "(Pat has) been on me a ton more this year since he knows it's my last season, and he knows I'll regret it if I don't take every opportunity I can."

"It's been a great help," Cale added about having his dad at the field. "With my technique, with my work ethic, even my strength and conditioning. He's pushing me at home on that, too."

Lenny and Pat essentially were destined to coach Cale — a tight end/ linebacker — and Noah — a running back/ defensive back— on the Warriors. The former two have spent large portions of their adult lives roaming football sidelines — primarily at Tuscola — while the latter two have been around the game since their early elementary years.

"They'd be 5 years old ... they'd be out at practice, and that fence around the whole football field is their playground," Pat said. "And usually they'd see all the stuff we don't."

"(Cale) was always going to be a football player," Lenny added. "I knew this was just a special group of boys."

After spending six years as an assistant at Monticello, Lenny was back with Tuscola in time for Noah's sophomore season.

"You love to be around your dad. You love that," Noah said. "Having your parents know (the game) is great because they can help you and everything."

Pat, meanwhile, has not only been a presence at Warriors games the last 18 years, but also as a coach in junior football league action when Noah, Cale and others have passed through.

"It's kind of something you take for granted," Noah said. "Once you look back on it and see how much he actually does, you really appreciate that."

The fathers and sons realize not only the gravity of getting to play for a state championship, but also that their time under the coach-player banner is coming to an end today.

"I guess it hit me coming home (after last week's win over Athens), when the whole town was out and we were coming in for the escort," Pat said. "Sometimes you forget to appreciate the opportunity we've had. To get to spend all this time together has been awesome."

"The tough thing this year is it's the last," Lenny added. "If we're going to end somewhere, this is the right place to end."

Of course, there is one game to go. As Noah told Pat earlier this week: "Dad, it's not over yet. We've still got some business to take care of."

Cale shared a similar sentiment, tying it back to a past that suggested these fathers and sons would eventually bring their bonds to the field for Tuscola.

"We have a picture ... of me, my dad and my sister on the sideline in 2006 (after the Warriors won a state title)," Cale said. "I just think it'd be a great picture to recreate my senior year."