This year, Mount Si's offensive line benefits from decades of professional football experience in the person of Howard Mudd.
A retired NFL player and longtime coach, Mudd has been working alongside the team since July.
After "you've done something for a long time, know a lot about it, there's a need to give back," Mudd said. "That's what I'm doing. I give them some of my knowledge."
Mudd, 71, built a home in North Bend six years ago to be near his son, Darren, and family, who live in Snoqualmie.
"I was looking for a place where I could look at mountains," said Mudd.
His football resume goes back 50 years. He attended Midland High School, where he went to state with the football team, earning all-state. After a stint at Michigan State, he wound up playing football at Hillsdale College in Michigan, where he was inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame.
After college, he played for the San Francisco 49ers for seven years, then the Chicago Bears for six years, earning a spot in the Pro Bowl three times with Chicago. After a knee injury, he retired from play and began coaching at the University of California, then soon moved to the National Football League, coaching for the San Diego Chargers, the 49ers, the Seattle Seahawks, the Cleveland Browns, the Kansas City Chiefs, the Indianapolis Colts, and most recently, the Philadelphia Eagles.
The connection began when head coach Charlie Kinnune bumped into Mudd at an Issaquah butcher shop, then a year later at the North Bend Starbucks, both time urging the ex-49er and longtime NFL coach to start a relationship with the Wildcats.
"He's been a mentor for us," said Mount Si offensive line coach Jerry Maher. Mudd, he said, teaches players about football and life.
"You coach football because you have to," said Maher. Love for the game, he said, means you're driven to give your all. "That's one of the greatest things I've learned from him."
"It's great working with Howard," said lineman Jack Nordby. "His brain is an encyclopedia of football knowledge. Every day is enlightening."
Working with Maher and fellow offense coach Jeremy Cromer, Mudd talked about schematics and fundamentals.
"They wanted to learn as much as they could. The kids responded great," he said. "I just got a tremendous amount out of it.
For Mudd, it's not about the age or size of the player, but the task at hand and the skill to be learned.
"Believe it or not, in professional football, you don't always get the best match," but have to work with the people you've got. High school play is the same way.
"The guy that's playing, he gets better, because he needs to block somebody who might be better than he is," said Mudd. "That's what coaching is about.
"Whether you play on Sunday or Friday night, football is football," he says.
Last week, Mudd watched the Homecoming game with one of his former Seahawks players, Jim Zorn, before heading south to Arizona for the winter. Mudd said he'll follow the team at a distance, and call players if he has to.
Above, Mudd poses for a photo with offensive line coach Jerry Maher.