By all accounts, BYU's relationship with Lakes High School is a strange one. The public school in suburban Tacoma doesn't have an LDS seminary nearby, nor does it rise and shout whenever the Cougars are out.
The student body is both diverse and transient - covering all walks of life from Oakbrook Country Club wealth to the Fort Lewis army base. Football coach Dick Zatkovich said he doesn't reload each season, he rebuilds.Even so, the Lancers find ways to succeed. The defending 3A state champs have made the playoffs nine of the past 11 years. And though they're clad in blue and orange, Lakes looks an awful lot like the college program where several alums have opted to continue their careers.
"It's a high school version of BYU," Zatkovich said. "We throw the ball around a lot and we've had some success."
And none greater than Drew Miller. Zatkovich refers to BYU's current back-up quarterback as his Ty Detmer. In four years at Lakes, Miller set Washington state high school records with 9,003 career passing yards and 101 touchdowns.
Miller, for obvious reasons, had plenty of influence over his teammates at Lakes. And he still does.
BYU recruiting coordinator Chris Pella calls it the "Drew Miller Connection." After signing a letter of intent with the Cougars, Miller was instrumental in getting receivers Mike Rigell and Michael Westbrook to join him.
"I would never have thought the three of us would be playing football together again," Miller said. "And when we had that opportunity, it was incredible."
And things could get even more amazing.
Three other Lancers - running back Darryl Hill and wide receivers Jeremy Jacobs and Derrick Williams - may join them. Each is currently attending Snow College.
"Drew kind of spread the word," Westbrook said. "He told us to come out here because they throw the ball a lot. And I wanted another chance to play with Drew."
Rigell seconded the motion.
"I came to BYU because Drew came here. It seemed like a good spot to be at and we're just waiting to see how things work out," Rigell said. "We had a lot of special times at Lakes. Drew and I have played together since we were 7 years old."
Excuse the trio for reminiscing. Saturday's game with Washington at Husky Stadium is a homecoming of sorts. Dozens of family and friends are expected to make the nearby trek to Seattle.
"It gives me the goosebumps just thinking about it. It's a dream come true. I've been watching games at Husky Stadium since I was little, real little," said Miller, who has been slowed by a kidney stone this week. "To walk out of that tunnel with a uniform on, knowing you're going to do battle on that field, is going to be very rewarding for us. It's something we've worked very hard for and it's going to be an incredible feeling, an incredible rush, an incredible afternoon.
"Since last year I've had Sept. 19 in my head," Miller added. "It's almost more important than my birthday."
Could the passer who was passed over by Washington because he was deemed too small (6-0, 200) be looking for redemption? And what about Rigell and Westbrook who were ultimately not in the Huskies plans either?
"Oh yeah. We all want to go home and beat U-dub - beat a lot of the guys we know," Westbrook said. "So we can have bragging rights when we go back home."