ARLINGTON — For Arlington football coach Greg Dailer and Monroe coach Dick Abrams, tonight’s game not only will impact the Wesco 4A North standings but might have ramifications on Thanksgiving dinner.
The relationship between the two coaches is unusual given that Dailer is married to Abrams’ daughter, Ashley. In fact, Ashley’s brother, Richie, has dubbed tonight’s contest in Arlington the “Ashley Bowl.”
“I thought it was hilarious,” Ashley said. “He told me he was going to be there for the Ashley Bowl. And I was like, ‘What’s the Ashley Bowl?’ (He said), ‘You know, Greg and Dad.’”
This is the first time the two coaches have faced each other since Greg and Ashley married in August, but the couple did get a small taste of what would it be like a season ago. The two were dating at the time Monroe and Arlington faced off, a game the Bearcats won 29-22 in overtime on their way to the Wesco 4A North championship.
Abrams and Dailer were obviously aware of the connection at the time, but it wasn’t common knowledge for those around them. Abrams treated the game like any other.
“I didn’t know him real well, but we knew each other,” Abrams said. “I had seen him a couple of times. We knew it was serious, but we didn’t know they were getting married at that time. To me, it was just a guy dating my daughter.
“It was just another game. We, of course, before and after the game said ‘hi’ and chatted a bit. (The relationship) got kind of serious from there on for those two.”
So, how did it feel for Dailer to lose to his girlfriend’s father?
“Not good,” he said laughing. “I was not happy after the game. It was a big test for our relationship.”
The game wasn’t easy for Ashley either. She spent most of the night with the Arlington fans, but did make an appearance on the Monroe side. “She wasn’t sure if we were going to last yet, so I think she was still pulling for her dad,” Dailer said.
Abrams’ wife, Trudi, kept tabs on their daughter during the game.
“She was on the Arlington side for most of the game, but she did come out and congratulate me right after the game which I appreciated,” Dick Abrams said.
This year, mother and daughter will be in the press box together — Ashley keeping statistics for Dailer and Trudi keeping stats for Abrams.
Now that his daughter and Dailer are married, Abrams said he expects she no longer will be on the fence.
“She won’t even be on my side at all this year,” Abrams said. “I’m sure she won’t even step on the Monroe side. She will be all Arlington, which is fine.”
The relationship between Greg and Ashley continued to grow after last year’s game, so much so that he spent Thanksgiving with the Abrams family. Dick Abrams didn’t bring up the game, but son Richie couldn’t resist. Dailer took the good-natured ribbing in stride.
“Richie made sure to say something,” Dailer said. “It was fine. I was over it by then.”
Obviously the dynamic between the two coaches has changed in the past year. They know each other better now and have become close.
“We’re good friends now, and family actually, so once the kids get out there and start playing I’m sure it will be just like any other game for both of us,” Abrams said. “But before the game, pregame and postgame, it’s going to be a very cordial time. We get to chat a little bit and say ‘hi’ and that type of thing. It will be fun competing against each other, but when the kids are out there playing, we will be coaching just like we would any other game.”
At family get-togethers, Abrams and Drailer talk football — just not about their own teams.
“I don’t think we talk so much about Arlington and Monroe football,” Abrams said. “It’s more college and pros because it’s something we share in common. It’s a huge thing in both of our families. We both really enjoy football. It is a topic of conversation for us definitely, but not so much the immediate football that we coach ourselves.”
Dailer said he looks forward to the day that might change.
“With us being in the same league we are really standoffish about football specifics, schemes and things like that,” Dailer said. “I’m excited for whenever he retires to actually be able to open up about it a little more because it’s so secretive all the time.”
Whatever happens tonight, Dailer said he expects this year’s postgame exchange to be a bit different than the one the two coaches shared a year ago.
“It will probably be more of a shake into a hug,” Dailer said. “I respect him a lot and win or lose it will just be fun to compete against him.”
As for Ashley, she will be rooting for her husband — mostly.
“I will be excited either way,” she said. “I will be cheering for Arlington … but I will be happy if my dad wins, too.”
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at alommers@herald net.com.