HIGHLAND | It's kind of like a singer being named Elvis. Some vocations simply have a name that is recognizable to the public.
Like presidents named George, Highland has a quarterback with a name that fits what he does Friday nights -- Gunner Grider.
And his first name is not a nickname.
"Nope, that's what's on his birth certificate," Highland coach Trent Grider said.
The senior Grider was coaching in Ohio when his son was born. He followed the lead former Bengals' quarterback Boomer Esiason, who named his son Gunnar.
Trent actually walked up to a press box when few were watching, or listening, and repeatedly said into the public address microphone, "Gunner Grider. Gunner Grider."
"I wanted to see what is sounded like," Trent said.
The name has been said over the Highland P.A. the last four years. Although not an A-typical QB, Gunner has started there the last three-plus years for one reason.
"He was the guy we needed there," Trent said.
While Highland has struggled through a 5-34 record the last four years, Grider has put up some solid numbers. He's thrown for 2,000 yards with 16 TDs and 12 interceptions.
He's rushed for 500 yards with nine scores.
He hopes the numbers go up Friday when the Trojans (1-8) travel to Griffith (3-6) for the Class 4A Sectional 9 opener.
"It's not been a lot of fun," Gunner said of the losing. "But you do what you can. You take all the advantages you can. If you get knocked down you get back up on your feet and do whatever it takes."
While Griffith pounded Highland 41-14 in Week 7, Panthers star quarterback Austin Brown was injured last Friday against E.C. Central and did not play in the second half.
His potential absence could bring the two squads closer.
"I remember my first play as a freshman like it was yesterday," Gunner said. "Time has flown by. We have to try to get some momentum going against Griffith. They are one of our biggest rivals. We want to do everything we can."
Coach Grider has been coaching high school football for a long time. His eldest son spent most of his growing up days on a football field with his father.
"It was like I had 60-80 big brothers," he said.
When Trent was at Richmond, Gunner saw his "brothers" huddling before a play. He ran out on the field as the ball was snapped under Friday night lights.
The umpire snatched up the 3-year-old in one arm and got him off the field.
"Yes, we've had our ups and downs," said Stacy Grider, Gunner's mom. "It's harder when it's your son out there. But he's a team player and he does what's best for everyone."