Howard Reisbord first saw his son Scott play football two years ago. El Camino Real High had made it to the City Section 4-A playoffs, so Howard and Frank D'Alessandro, co-coaches of Monroe's football team, went and watched Scott and the Conquistadores play Carson.
"He did a good job," Howard said. "I asked D'Alessandro, 'Am I seeing what I'm seeing or am I being partial?' D'Alessandro said he was a player. I thought he was, but I had to double-check."
Howard's assessment of his son proved accurate. Scott had two successful seasons at El Camino Real. It also turned out to be the only time Howard saw Scott play.
Until this season.
The younger Reisbord transferred to Monroe to play football for his father.
"I'm not here just to play football and win," Scott said. "I'm here because I want to play for my dad. I like to be near my dad and I like to play football. I feel that I belong here."
Some people might have wondered why he hadn't been at Monroe all along. After all, wouldn't it be ideal for a son to play for his father?
Scott approached his father before he had enrolled in high school about playing at Monroe.
"He asked if he could play for me, but I just said I didn't think it was a good idea at the time," Howard said.
Scott--who lives with his mother, Joni Rittner, Howard's ex-wife--decided that father knew best.
"It was disappointing because I always wanted to play for him, but I think he knew what was best so I took his advice," he said.
Howard didn't want his son to face undue pressure from his peers while trying to make the varsity.
"If he was fortunate enough to start, being a 10th-grader and not having experience but just doing it on ability, they might say, 'Hey, you're starting because your father's a coach,' " Howard said.
So Scott enrolled at El Camino Real, his neighborhood school. He played tight end one year and offensive tackle the next.
Because both Howard and Scott were busy Friday nights with their own teams, they were never able to see one another's teams play.
"I would have liked for him to see me play more than he did, but I play football for me, not him," Scott said.
Communication, however, was swift after games.
"We had a deal where, right after the game, he would go right home and then I'd call him," Howard said. "The first question was always how did the team do. No, the first question was are you hurt, are you OK. We really wouldn't talk about how he did."
Scott, who starts at tight end and linebacker at Monroe, never talked about transferring when he was at El Camino Real. At least one of his teammates knew that Scott wanted to be at Monroe, however.
"He never said anything about it," Conquistador lineman Jack Swan said, "but I knew deep down he really would rather have started his high school career with his dad."
Both said that their relationship off the field hasn't changed since Scott transferred. They get to see each other more and can talk face to face after games. Other than that, nothing is different.
The one place where they are still getting used to one another is on the field. Howard doesn't want to show favoritism toward Scott.
"I don't even think I work hard at it," Howard said. "He gets criticized the same as anybody else. He gets praised the same as anybody else. I don't think I work any harder on not saying anything one way or another. In fact, I have to shy away sometimes."
Said Scott: "When we're on the field it's a coach-player relationship only. I have no special privileges and I do everything he says just like the rest of the ballplayers. I ask him what to do because he is the coach and I'm the player."
Monroe won its first game of the season when Scott recovered a fumble in the end zone. Afterward, Howard was congratulated by well-wishers. "Way to go, your son did well," they said.
"Hey, you know I don't have time for that," said Howard, quick to point out that team accomplishments outweigh those of an individual. "I was proud of him because we thought he had a good ballgame and proud that the team did well."
And for the first time, Howard can be proud of both team and son at the same time.