September 7, 2005 - It's the afternoon before the first game of the season, and a handful of Canyon Del Oro High School football players are sitting around the locker room before the team's walkthrough practice.

All eyes affix to the movie "Rudy" on the television set at the front of the cramped, pungent room.

Among the players taking in the epic movie - the story of an inspirational runt who defies the odds, in light of his older brothers' nay-sayings, to make the Notre Dame football team - are Ryan and Brent Lush, a brotherly duo with a family dynamic opposite the fabled Rudy's.

For the brothers Lush, football is life and being able to experience it together is priceless. Whereas the senior Ryan is the team's quarterback and leader, his younger brother Brent is an up-and-coming lineman.

"It just adds to that family feature," said Ryan. "You always say we're a big family out here, but it's really true in some aspects."

During the first practice of the season, a lineup change brought the two even closer together than they had been before. After serving as a guard last year for the CDO freshman team, Brent spent the summer preparing for the same role, this year, with varsity. When camp convened this summer, CDO head coach Pat Nugent had other ideas. Nugent, realizing that the team's first four opponents used a nose tackle, switched Brent to center to better use his size to protect his quarterback and running game.

In an ironic twist, Brent is now protecting his older brother.

Not that Ryan is helpless. Last year as a junior, Ryan threw for 1,404 yards and 13 touchdowns, leading the Dorados to an 8-3 mark and birth into the state playoffs.

"We'll be counting on Ryan to do an awful lot for us this year," Nugent said. "We're going to ask a lot of big things from Ryan. We're going to ask him to put up some big numbers and to be a star out there."

Brent can't really be called Ryan's "little" brother. There is nothing in the sophomore's physique that suggests he is anything but a moose in football pads. At 5 feet, 11 inches, 230-pounds, Brent is considered a vital part of CDO's future plans.

"He was a tremendous freshman player for us, so there was no question he'd be a varsity player for us this year," Nugent said. "He's going to have a great career for us, without question."

Slowly but surely, Brent said he is adjusting to the new position and the prospect of working closely with his brother is one he enjoys.

"It's pretty cool," Brent said. "It kind of works out nice."

Even though it may have taken Ryan some time to accept his brother's new role and he may never admit to it, in the end, professionalism won out.

"Ryan is a mature kid. He knows how to handle it," Nugent said. "I don't think it was a choice that either one of them wanted to make in the beginning, but they are both such team players. I think they both realized that was the best thing for the team."

With Ryan under center, CDO won its first game of the year Sept. 2 against Scottsdale Saguaro, 33-6. Ryan passed for 222 yards, adding two touchdowns.

The saga of Ryan and Brent didn't start this fall on the gridiron. It actually began four months ago during the baseball season.

While pursuing a pop foul, Ryan was involved in a collision with a teammate that caused him to hyperextend his knee. With the veteran catcher sidelined with the injury for four weeks, CDO baseball coach Len Anderson dipped into his junior varsity squad and plucked Brent to be Ryan's replacement behind the dish.

Brent did an admirable job handling the CDO pitching staff and starting in every game before breaking his hand right before regional play started.

Before high school, the only other team the two played on together the Marana Broncos of Pop Warner for one season. When Ryan was Brent's age, he was a backup quarterback and absorbed all the information he could from Nugent and then quarterback C.J. Ziegler. Now, the quarterback-catcher is passing along the leadership skills to his brother.

"I'm helping him out, bringing him up," Ryan said. "But he's also got to learn for himself. I'm just happy that he's up here contributing to the team."

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