Since he was a first-grader, Andrew Dyer has been tethered to his father Andy’s football program.

He has been an Archer Tiger from the high school’s inception, spending afternoons and evenings at practices and in the fieldhouse, serving as a ball boy and riding the team bus on road trips. He eventually grew into his current role as a key wide receiver for another state playoff team, soaking up an atmosphere his father envisioned for him.

Long before Andrew played sports — before he could walk — Andy had an idea of what he wanted from his son athletically. It had nothing to do with touchdowns or home runs.

“(Andrew) plays as hard as he can go, that’s what I’m proud of,” said Andy, who started the Archer football program in 2009. “When he was born, one of my prayers for him was that I didn’t care if he was the best player on the team or the worst player on the team, but that he would play with all his heart and that he would love his teammates. And he does that. ... He got to be on the field for a lot of big games as a young kid, state championship games, semifinal games. He’s been fortunate to play in a semifinal game. He’s had a great experience, exactly how I wanted it to be.”

Andrew’s experience in high school athletics began early, back when Andy was an assistant football and baseball coach at Mill Creek, where both Andy and his wife Kim worked as teachers at the time.

“With both my children, with my daughter Mary Lyn and Andrew, being in our profession, our kids have been with us since they started in kindergarten,” said Andy, who also coached Andrew for five years in youth baseball and for a couple of seasons in youth football. “Some of my fondest memories were when I was coaching at Mill Creek and Kim was teaching at Mill Creek, and Andrew was staying at Child’s World daycare. In the springtime, I would leave school a little bit early and I would go get him up from his nap at Child’s World and take him to the baseball field. He was right there with me and (Mill Creek baseball coach) Doug (Jones). He was fielding ground balls when he was 4. Just doing that stuff has been a tremendous honor. It’s one of my greatest life’s honors to be able to coach my son.”

Each stage of the past decade-plus has been a fun ride both of the Dyers, ranging from Andrew’s days as an elementary school ball boy to his duty on the sidelines charting plays as a middle-schooler to his current role as senior leader and go-to receiver.

“It’s just countless memories, not just as a player, but growing up as a coach’s son with all the other coaches’ sons,” Andrew said. “Going to games, riding the bus and counting down the hours in middle school and elementary school to get back here with everybody and go play (on the field) before (the players) come out. I don’t think I’ve ever missed a game in 12 years. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

While Andy stressed hard work and love for teammates first, his son also grew into a pretty good football and baseball player. He wears the same No. 16 his father wore for the Brookwood Broncos almost 30 years ago and shares some similar athletic traits with his old man.

Andy was about 15 pounds heavier as a high school running back/cornerback, and referred to himself as a “bull in a china shop” when it came to his catching ability, pointing out that his son has much better hands.

“He’s got great hands,” Andy said. “He was 4 or 5 years old and I was whizzing stuff across the house at him and he would pick it. Perfect technique on ground balls at age 4 or 5. He could visually watch the older kids do it and repeat it. I think I can count maybe on one hand how many balls he’s dropped in three years. I can only think of one. He’s extremely dependable. He’s become a really good route runner. He understands the coverages and how to adjust his routes. He bails out of a lot of the other guys some times by fixing his routes to adjust what they screwed up. I’ve seen him do that.

“For a coach and for our offensive coordinator, Coach (Micheil) Hill, he makes everything right with what we do. I’m just super proud of him. If he gets the opportunity to keep playing, he’ll be able to do the same thing at the next level.”

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, recruiting is interesting and largely virtual for all high school athletes, but the Dyers are confident the right path is out there.

“The Lord has a plan for him,” Andy said. “Just through prayer at the end of the day, he’s going to really have to figure that out, through prayer and the Lord speaking to him, about where he wants him to spend the next four years. We’re trusting that will happen in time. The thing I’m most proud about with him is he’s got a good head on his shoulders. His relationship with Christ is first. And the Lord has a plan for Andrew Dyer. That’s the best part.”

After college, the younger Dyer has a plan, too. He wants to follow his father’s path and be a football coach.

That decision doesn’t surprise Kim Dyer, the most appreciative observer of the relationship between her husband and son.

“Their time (at Archer) has just been priceless,” said Kim, an AP language and composition teacher at Archer. “Andrew’s been on his hip since he could walk and that includes being on whatever field or fieldhouse Andy was at. Of course, he would get on the bus from Cooper (Elementary) and go straight to the fieldhouse and hang out with his dad. So did all the coaches’ kids. That’s just priceless. I think that’s part of why Andrew wants to be a coach because he’s had such a fun experience in that environment.”

Her son concurred, recalling a life of watching his father as a football coach and as a Christian role model.

“I’m hoping to play (football) somewhere (in college) and become a coach after,” Andrew said. “Just seeing how he’s impacted so many lives. I’ve been around the game my whole life. It seems weird not to be around it. Thinking about the experiences I’ve had, if I have a son I would want my son to have the same experience. ... I’ve just seen the right way to run a program from him. Obviously, we’ve won a lot of games, but it’s so much more. I’ve just seen the lives he’s impacted. It’s just been amazing to see him at work. I’m so proud of him because he’s my dad, but just to see him operate has been really cool.”

While it may seem like it, their time together doesn’t always involve football. They like to fish and play golf. They sometimes go hunting, though one likes it more than the other — “he generally falls asleep the first few minutes,” Andy said.

Then again, their time at home often revolves around football, too.

“It used to bother me because we’d be watching a game on TV and he’d rewind it to see the formation or the play,” Andrew said. “I would be like, ‘Now we’re going to get behind.’ But now I kind of enjoy it.”

Those times will continue beyond this football season, a special one for father and son. It is filled with even more memories, along with the impending finality of Andrew’s high school career.

“I don’t like to think about that,” Andy said. “It will be crushing.”

The family is bracing for the last game, which could happen at any time with the state playoffs starting Friday at home against Gainesville.

“It’s going to be so hard,” Kim said. “I just try not to think about it. I bury my head in the sand. I’m really worried about Andy. I don’t think he’ll get over it quickly. He’ll have to grieve not having Andrew by his side after all those years. But I think he’ll appreciate him being there and being such a part of his experience.”

Of that, there is no doubt.

“It’s been an unbelievable blessing, obviously, just to be able to watch him grow and mature,” Andy said. “He’s an unbelievable student. He carries a 4.0. It’s just a great honor to watch him grow and compete. He’s a great teammate. He loves his teammates to death. It’s been a great experience for the whole family.

“His mother and his sister, Mary Lyn, are his two biggest fans. They’ve made our journey even more fun. Kim takes care of all the dirty work while we’re playing. And Mary Lyn is a fierce supporter and a great sister. It’s been fun for all of us.”

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