FERRIS FOOTBALL
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Rob Kuharski

 

Rob Kuharski’s pre-game ritual is the same before every Grid-Kids game he coaches. He gathers his team around and they recite “The Promise.” He came up with it the night before his first coaching game. He says each of the phrases one at a time, and the kids repeat it back to him. It goes like this, “I make this promise, right here today, to do my best on every play. I make this promise to all my friends, to be a good sport to the very end. I make this promise to this here crowd, that they will see an effort to make them SAXON proud.” It embodies what he is trying to teach these young men about a sport he loves. It’s a promise they never forget.

Rob’s love of football began in what was then the Jr. National Football League. As a 7th grader, this giant of a man played quarterback in the lightweight division. He grew so much the next year he was moved to the line, and that is where he excelled.

As a Saxon, Rob was a 2 way starter on both the offensive and defensive lines for all 3 years of his varsity eligible years. At 6’4 and nearly 230 lbs, Rob was a dominant lineman for the Saxons. His accomplishments on the field included being an All-City selection every year, and being named team captain his senior year. He was selected to play in the East/West Shrine game, where he was named team captain for the East team.

By the time his junior year ended, the Washington Huskies, coached by the legendary Dawgfather, Don James, knew they wanted Rob. His size and versatility playing on both lines caught the eye of not just the Huskies, but also of several other major programs. He took recruiting trips to Notre Dame, the Air Force Academy, the U of Montana, Montana State, Stanford and Washington State.

Rob had grown up a Cougar fan, and had watched many Cougar games at Albi, but once he started to research programs and understand what “big time” college football looked like, he selected UW. The Don James era was just beginning and UW was a national powerhouse.


He was recruited to play defensive line for the Huskies. As a true freshman, he played in nearly every home game. They took 1st place in the Pac 10 that year and earned a trip to the Rose Bowl to face Michigan. Rob called it his most memorable bowl game - he played in 5 - and he didn’t even play a single down. “When I came out of the tunnel and ran onto the field in front of 105,000 fans I was so pumped up. If I never did another thing with football, I would have been satisfied with that moment.”

Well, he did accomplish other things. The next year the Huskies repeated as Pac 10 champs and returned to the Rose Bowl. This time they defeated Iowa 28-10 and finished the year ranked #10. He was also moved to the offensive line that year. He said that fit his personality better: he was smart, thoughtful, huge and slow.


The next two years the Huskies finished 2nd in the Pac 10, due to a couple Cougar upsets. They played in the Aloha Bowl those two years, beating Maryland 21-20 the first year and losing to Penn State the next. His final year saw the Huskies finish 2nd again, this time losing for the first time in his career to the USC Trojans in a game that probably cost them the National Championship. They went on to win the Orange Bowl with an upset over #2 Oklahoma 28-17. UW finished the year #2 in the country. It was Rob’s last collegiate game. The last Bowl game was nearly as memorable as the first.


He now gives back to the Saxon program by mentoring young kids on the field. Rob coached many of this years varsity players in Grid Kids. He figures he probably has 25 or so kids playing varsity ball in the GSL. He is proud of the boys on this Saxon team. He says, “It’s a privilege to be a part of something that helps these kids succeed. Not every kid has the ability or the desire to play this game. It is all about working hard together for a common goal. Football is more of a team sport than any other. Its tough physically and mentally. You have to do stuff over and over that you don’t like to do so one day you’ll be successful. Just like in life.”