LITTLE BIT OF FAMILY FUN: Father-son relationship doubles as successful head coach-quarterback combo for QHS football team
QUINCY (WGEM) - Like father, like son.
As the Quincy High head football coach, Rick Little watched his quarterback Bradyn Little shatter two passing records and execute the game plan to near perfection in a 49-14 rout of East Moline last Friday at Flinn Stadium.
As the father of the record-setting sophomore quarterback, it was a proud realization that his son had come full circle within the QHS program.
“For me, it’s been something that I’ve been used to,” Rick Little said of coaching his son. “He’s been in our youth programs. He’s just always been around the game.
“As a coach and father, it wasn’t hard to sell him on playing the game. Besides playing in the program, he’s been a ball boy. When he was young, he made the bus trips to Moline, with me carrying him into the house at 2 a.m. when he was really young. He’s grown up with it and now it has come full circle.”
Has it ever.
In just his fourth varsity start, Bradyn Little set single-game QHS records with five touchdowns and 373 passing yards in the Homecoming demolition of East Moline. After his first three passes fell incomplete, Little completed 15 of his next 16 passes, including all 10 of his throws in the second half.
And in typical quarterback fashion, Bradyn credited the Blue Devils’ offensive line and receiving corps for the offensive explosion.
“They have been great all year,” Bradyn said as the Blue Devils improved to 3-1 overall and 1-1 in the Western Big Six Conference heading into Friday night’s game at Galesburg (1-3, 0-2). “The line allows me time to make the throws and we have some receivers who can catch the ball and get plenty of yards after the catch.”
Little threw three TD passes to wide receiver Jack Mettemeyer, covering 70, 51 and 24 yards, and two to wide receiver Greg Quince on passes of 22 and 16 yards.
Rick Little, who has a career record of 80-66 with two WB6 championships in his 15 years at QHS, says he’s a glass-half-full sort of guy so he tries to keep the team as well as his son’s achievements in perspective.
Not so, he says, for his proud parents and Bradyn’s grandparents, Jim and Sandy Little.
“I think they were the happiest,” Rick Little said of Friday’s game. “They were so excited to be there to see it and we’ve always had their support.”
Most successful football teams usually have a strong head coach/quarterback relationship (see Brady/Belichick). That arrangement is magnified by the father-son relationship in this case.
So has Bradyn the quarterback ever changed Rick the head coach’s play at the line of scrimmage?
“We don’t generally call audibles at the line anymore,” Rick Little said. “We use RPO (run-pass offense). We may have a run called and he will read the defense and throw a pass. To his credit, his eyes went elsewhere and it was successful. On the sideline, we just go ‘oh my gosh, you keep doing that.’”
So what happens if the call doesn’t work.
“We’ll go back to the sideline and talk about what happened and why it didn’t work,” Bradyn Little said.
Even though father and son have a common love of the game, they try to keep a “normal” relationship when at home.
“No question,” Rick Little said. “Of course, we like to argue just to argue. It gets funny and sometimes, I just have to walk away. It’s never too serious. He’s pretty low maintenance.”
Julie Little, Rick’s wife and Bradyn’s mother, agrees.
“You’d think so, but they never get out of hand,” she said with a laugh. “I think Bradyn appreciates his father’s advice and he’s very respectful of that.”
At times, Bradyn will bounce serious football ideas off his father during those conversations at home.
“Bradyn will come up with a concept or scheme and he’s cerebral enough to ask about those ideas,” Rick Little said.
Having a father who played quarterback at a high level has also helped Bradyn.
After being an all-state quarterback at Carthage High School, Rick Little signed with Augustana before transferring to Blackburn College in Carlinville. At Blackburn, Little was team captain, preseason All-American and holds 15 school passing records. Later, Little had professional stints with the Flint (Mich.) Flames, St. Louis Renegades and the Show Me Believers of indoor arena football leagues.
So following in his father’s footsteps as a quarterback has been a dream come true for Bradyn, who this past summer gathered plenty of collegiate exposure after finishing second nationwide at the Tony Colston Gunslinger Challenge at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
For the Littles, football has been a family affair. The Littles have another son, Bryson, a seventh-grader at QJHS who also happens to play quarterback, and a daughter, Brooklyn, who is a freshman at Quincy High School and a member of the pom pon squad.
“It’s been kind of a surreal experience for our family,” Rick Little said.
“I couldn’t have imagined life this way,” admitted Julie, who married Rick in 2004. “It’s just everyday life. I don’t think I envisioned marrying a football coach and then having your son play quarterback.”
As the season nears the midpoint, both father and son agree on one thing: There’s more work to be done by the Blue Devils.
“Our goal is to win the conference title and make the playoffs,” Bradyn Little said.
“It’s important that we keep our focus and pay attention to the task at hand,” Rick Little said.
Like father, like son.
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