All in the Family: Gash Brothers off to Quick Start
SUAMICO – Elijah and Isaiah Gash have quite the family pedigree when it comes to football. The duo’s father, Sam, had a solid 13-year NFL career, won a Super Bowl ring with the Baltimore Ravens and followed that up with several stints as an assistant coach at the highest level.
If four games are any indication, the Bay Port brothers are well on their way to carving their own path on the gridiron.
The senior Elijah has two touchdowns through four games, while the sophomore Isaiah has scored on a pair of punt returns and a rushing touchdown.
“This is my first year returning punts,” said Isaiah. “It’s been a little unexpected, but I think my athleticism has helped a little bit. Maybe our first few opponents haven’t been the greatest, but I feel once I get out into the open field, I’m able to use my speed and quickness. I hope to see the same success as the teams get tougher.”
In Elijah’s case, the Pirates really haven’t had to use his 6-4 frame all that much due to four consecutive blowouts. With five difficult Fox River Classic Conference games to come, expect Elijah to make much more of an impact.
“A lot of attention is being given to Cordell (Tinch) on the opposite side, but with our first games, we haven’t had to pass much. We are primarily a running team, but we have other weapons with myself and Jack (Plumb). I think once things get more difficult, teams will have a hard time covering all of us.”
Tinch stated a few weeks ago that he doesn’t know “if teams have the defense to cover two 6-4 receivers, a 6-8 tight end and a bunch of great running backs.” When asked to comment on that, the older Gash simply smiled.
The Gash’s are not new names to Bay Port…they’ve both played football in the past and have excelled at other sports: Elijah in lacrosse and Isaiah in track and field. Elijah actually has hopes to play college lacrosse, maybe at a university in Michigan.
Isaiah was one of the best freshmen in the state last year in the long jump, while Elijah is coming off an extended layoff in football due to a twice dislocated kneecap his sophomore year and surgery
“Elijah was out for football last year, but was injured,” said Bay Port head coach Gary Westerman. “It was up in the air whether he would come out this year, but he’s a really good football player, teammate and works really hard. Isaiah’s best position is probably on offense, but we need him on defense right now. The more opportunities we get him on offense, the better he’s going to be.
“They are great kids, really hard working and have an awesome work ethic in the weight room. They are super polite and just ‘salt of the earth’ people.”
The day I was at practice, the two were paired up against one another when the No. 1 offense was playing against the No. 1 D. You could see the two having a little fun, while still trying to do their best.
“It’s cool,” said Elijah. “Every chance I get I try to get in a little extra push and try to make him better. I look across the line and say, ‘that’s mini-me right there’.”
“It brings out a lot of friendly competition between us,” Isaiah added. “It’s nothing too serious, but we always try to mess with each other.”
Although the boys were pretty young when their father was ending his NFL career, they have fond memories of his playing and coaching days.
“It’s helped us a lot,” said Isaiah about his dad. “He gives us tips and pointers and pushes us in a direction. Since I don’t remember his playing career, it’s fun to see the excitement on his face when we play.”
Some of the brothers’ best memories are from when Sam was a running backs coach with the Packers starting in 2014.
“We’ve met a lot of players over the years, but my favorite would have to be Aaron Rodgers,” said Elijah. “He’s very humble. I remember one time we were talking to the (Packers) running backs and he came over and shook our hands. I was like, ‘that’s Aaron Rodgers right there’.”
Bay Port is off to a fantastic start and the Gash boys are a big reason for that. The Pirates are 4-0, ranked No. 4 in the state and scoring at will. Bay Port is averaging almost 60 points a game, which includes running clocks after halftime in its first three contests of the season.
“I think we can go as far as we want to,” said Elijah. “We have the weapons on offense and defense. We want more than just another conference championship.”
Email Rich ([email protected]) or follow him on Twitter (@richpalzewic).