When Oak Park (Ill.) High School coach Jim Nudera looks to midfield for his team's pregame handshake against York High, he'll see a familiar face: His son's. If the 1-1 Huskies' matchup against 2-0 York wasn't already tough enough, the elder Nudera now has to deal with the angst that comes from trying to defeat son Jimmy, who has emerged as a star quarterback for the Dukes.
The familial connections don't end there, either. According to a piece in the Chicago Sun-Times, the man directly charged with limiting Jimmy Nudera's production is his uncle, the Oak Park defensive coordinator Tim Hasso.
Yet no one has it as tough as Linda Nudera, Jim's wife and Jimmy's mother, who will conduct the pregame coin toss and then sit in the York stands to watch her son and daughter Evelyn, who is a York cheerleader. The maternal head of the Nudera family told the Sun-Times there was never any doubt where her allegiance would lie.
"It feels unnatural because it's a mother's job tounite her family," Linda Nudera said. "It's very unnatural that I have tochoose one or the other."
"You'll note the [York] green is over my heart," she said. "If I have to choose, I choose Jimmy. Jim fully supports that."
The face off between the Nuderas is the second high profile game pitting father and son to get significant exposure this season. Elsewhere, legendary Fayette County (Ala.) coach Waldon Tucker had to knock off his son, Lance, in the younger Tucker's first game in charge of Buhl (Ala.) Sipsey Valley to earn the 300th win of his career. Waldon Tucker earned the milestone victory in the game, with Fayette County prevailing 28-6.
The Oak Park coach also supports his son, and said that his fatherly instinct has made scouting York on tape difficult.
"I'm watching my son," Jim Nudera told the Sun-Times. "I'm trying to coach my son. ... "Down at the Under Armour Combine, kids from Oak Park and Jim were hanging out with each other. He's been at every one of our [team] barbecues."
Now the prodigal Oak Park son returns, leading the team on the other sideline. And while there will be tortured feelings for a quarterback and a coaching staff regardless of result, both parties made it clear to the Sun-Times that they are approaching the game like any other.
"Play this game, play it as hard as you can and that's all you can ask," Jim Nudera said. "And it's going to play itself out."
"I don't think [fans are] coming to watch Nudera vs. Nudera," Jimmy said. "They love York and Oak Park."
Photo from the Pioneer Press, courtesy Sun-Times News Group.