Beebe brothers a winning combination at Aurora Christian
Sounds like a crazy way to run a football team.
"I have no idea what he's doing and he has no idea what I'm doing."
They're crazy like foxes, these Beebe brothers: Aurora Christian defensive coordinator David Beebe -- who supplied that quote -- and Eagles head coach, Don, the offensive mind six years his senior.
Kaneland High School boys made good, Don's out of the Class of 1983, David a three-sport athlete out of '89. In support is the middle brother, Dan, Class of '86, Aurora Christian's athletic director.
Operating with autonomy then putting it all together on the field, since Don Beebe took over Eagles football from program founder Andrew Price in 2004 and immediately handed the defense over to untested brother David, they've turned Aurora Christian into one of the state's top programs.
"Throughout the week we have our own coaches and really we do not communicate," David Beebe explained. "The only way we do is when we practice and we can see what the other side is doing. In the offensive practice you can see what the offense is doing, and the defensive practice you can see what the defense is doing. I think it's a good thing because it allows us to really focus on what we need to do. It's worked out pretty well so far."
Indeed. A second straight Class 3A title on Friday over Tolono-Unity would be the Eagles' 10th straight playoff victory and 12th in their last 13. In the last six seasons of the program's run of 11 straight playoff appearances Aurora Christian has failed to reach the quarterfinals only once, in 2009. This success includes a 2008 runner-up finish.
One might figure offense would be a strength of a team coached by a former NFL receiver -- and it is.
"I knew he was a passionate guy," Don said. "I knew he'd take the ball and run with it. I didn't know he'd get this good."
A veteran of six Super Bowls as a receiver for the Buffalo Bills and Green Bay Packers, Don Beebe said David has essentially devised philosophy and schemes on his own. Don did utilize NFL contacts but mainly it's been David Beebe, somewhat amazing considering his competitive sports career ended in Northern Illinois University intermurals and he'd never coached at any level.
"Really it was kind of on-the-job training," said Don, who just celebrated the release of his book, "Six Rings from Nowhere."
"Or we've consulted really good defensive coordinators in the NFL, like Dick LeBeau from the Steelers, (Packers coordinator Dom) Capers. No, I don't ever think we've been to a clinic but we've sought out stuff like that -- at least he did."
There are no screaming matches between the two and certainly no cursing. Raised in a family steeped in faith, Don Beebe has a 1-curse warning for his staff, or else. David vaguely remembers "maybe" two disagreements over the nine years but notes "we're never ugly." If there is a discrepancy he realizes inevitably it's the head coach's team but hard lines just don't seem to get raised.
"I don't tell him what to run, I don't even know the game plan, I don't care," said Don, who if ever approached for a college coaching position said he'd consider choosing his brother as defensive coordinator.
"I know he's very good at what he does and I've come to trust that he gets it from a knowledge standpoint."
Trust and faith are elemental to their operation. Don and David Beebe stress that they didn't get into coaching to win football games. That's merely a happy byproduct.
"We're simply using football as a hook to minister and reach kids. That's the bottom line," said David, whose day job for the past 14 years has been running a computer software consulting business. "And football is a unique sport because it incorporates a lot of life and spiritual lessons. To be successful in football you have to have passion, and you have to have passion for Christ. To be a successful football player you have to have discipline and a great work habit. And the same thing with Christ."
In another analogy he said: "There's no such thing as a passive, successful Christian. They're not out there."
Faith was installed to the five Beebe children -- including sisters Diane and Beth -- by their parents, specifically their father, also named Don.
"My dad didn't grow up in a very loving home," said Don Beebe, the coach. The senior Beebe had a Christian friend and "he led my dad to prayer and my dad was saved."
"'I want to change the Beebe legacy,'" said the coach, recalling his father's message. "And boy, has he, in spades."
From an initial five children and parents Don and Barb Beebe, every summer since 1970 the family has gone to a resort in Remer, Minn. The party has expanded to 41 children, grandchildren and great-great grandchildren.
"It's the way family should be," coach Don Beebe said. "I'm a family guy. I think that what wins in life and what wins on the football field is chemistry."
Not everyone embraces a spiritual or Christian approach. Still, the importance of the principles the Beebes espouse -- facing fears, handling adversity, working hard and with discipline and passion, "absorbing that grind" of daily life, as David Beebe said -- cannot be denied in the development of young men on and especially off the football field.
"It's a game that is very much a battle -- mentally, physically in every way," David said. "And we try to communicate to these kids that this is how your life is going to be."
Each of the eight football state champions crowned Friday and Saturday will be honored by the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on Dec. 2.
During halftime of the Bears-Seahawks game, the head coach and one player from each of the winning teams will be saluted on the field. The ceremony will include championship game highlights on the Soldier Field video boards.
The nine men and boys the Bears selected as coaches and players of the week over the 2012 season will be recognized Dec. 2 as well. Kaneland coach Tom Fedderly was one of them, honored after the Knights' Week 9 33-30 victory over Class 5A finalist Morris that earned Kaneland a third straight Northern Illinois Big 12 East title and third straight undefeated regular season.
Other area honorees include Neuqua Valley coach Bill Ellinghaus, Benet coach Pat New and quarterback Jack Beneventi, and Marian Central quarterback Chris Streveler.
Follow Dave on Twitter @doberhelman1