APPLETON — In a Midwest Conference matchup on Saturday afternoon, Lawrence University hosted Beloit College.
For one family after sharing the sidelines for years and years, this game turned them into rivals.
However, Aiden and Derek Diehl, the father son duo share a special bond.
"That’s something you always want to do is have those moments to grow with your son in something that you both cherish doing,” said Derek Diehl. “Some people do it fishing, hunting – ours has always been football.”
Derek, a former semi-pro football player and owner, was the head coach for his son from the time he was about seven years old all the way through when Aiden graduated from Beloit Turner High School a few years ago.
“Super proud of his accomplishments,” Derek said. “Even more proud of his approach if that makes any sense. He takes it serious, everything he does. He’s full speed ahead and doesn’t cut corners.”
Aiden is now a junior linebacker and team captain at Beloit College. Growing up idolizing his dad, there were many things he learned.
“Just keep your head down and work,” said Aiden. “No matter what you do, you still have to wake up with the same attitude every day. If you wake up and you’re not really feeling it, it’s like what are you doing it for? You gotta keep the same mindset every single day.”
This year, Derek took a job at Lawrence University. Knowing his football background, the coaching staff then offered him a position, where he’s now the linebackers coach.
“It’s been a great experience for me. We have a great staff here constantly making sure that I’m a part of everything and feeding my brain to the next level of football and I’m blessed being here.”
This week, on Saturday the two went head to head for the first time in their lives.
“This week we kept the football aside and just focused on ourselves,” Aiden said about the lead-up to the game. “It was business.”
Mom, Jeni, was on hand to watch her husband and son with family dog Gracie in tow.
“I told them both good luck before the game and my husband said we are enemies for the next hour and 53 minutes,” she said.
They will play again next year, but this year, Aiden got the best of his dad, which he described as an ‘immaculate’ feeling. Beloit took down Lawrence 34-14.
“It’ll be tough on Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners because he’s going to take the shots that he can,” Derek said.
After Aiden’s playing career wraps up, the two are hoping and wishing they can coach together someday.
“We’ve had all this time in our lives that we were together playing football and to separate and do our thing and to come back together would be super cool,” Aiden said.