Modern technology only adds to the anxiety for fanatical football families.
Take the Sperbeck clan.
On Friday night, Thomas Sperbeck led Jesuit High School past El Camino 33-26 by accounting for four touchdowns. The senior won it on an eight-yard touchdown run with 14 seconds left.
Sacramento State coach Marshall Sperbeck, more than 850 miles away in Boulder, Colo., planning for Saturday's game against 21-point favorite Colorado, kept tabs via texts.
What yard line? How's the kid doing?
Thomas ran for 173 yards and passed for 232 against a defense designed to stop him and also played safety. On Saturday, with his body feeling the wear of an every-down effort, Thomas and his mother, Kelle, huddled at home to follow the Hornets' game. Resembling a family from the 1950s, they relied on the radio call from Jason Ross. They hung on every word, gnawing on fingernails right down to Edgar Castaneda's field goal with no time left that gave the Hornets a 30-28 victory.
Not only did Sac State get the upset, the program was paid $450,000 to take the game.
"Pretty crazy weekend," Thomas said. "Mom and I were pacing a lot. Football is fun for our family, but it's pretty nerve-wracking."
Father and son have a unique relationship, and they refuse to let football consume them at home. They occasionally go over film together, both Jesuit and Sac State action. Both offer critiques. "Nice technique and form there, son," or, "Hey, nice call there, dad a touchdown."
"We talk a lot of father-son stuff beyond football," Thomas said. "Football-wise, it's cool having a football coach as a dad. You learn a lot."
Ever hear of Marshall Sperbeck the player?
"I've heard a lot of stories about how good my dad was in high school, but I haven't seen any film," Thomas said.
The film does not lie. Marshall Sperbeck set regional passing records in 1977 at Valley, a new program that went 5-5. He then played at Nevada and followed the path of his father, Dick, and became a coach.
Marshall, still trim and fit at 6-foot-3, said his 6-foot son is much more elusive than he ever was.
"Oh, Thomas is a much better athlete than I was in high school, and smarter, too," Marshall Sperbeck said. "I was a PE-rec major in college. Thomas may study math or science in college."
But where will Thomas go to college?
Marshall has vowed to go after the best California players he can for the Hornets, but he isn't recruiting the best athlete at his dinner table. His son pulls for the Hornets every week, but he won't be pulling on a Sac State helmet.
"It's hard enough to be a college coach, and to have him in the same locker room would be hard on both of us" coach Sperbeck said.
Thomas agreed: "Playing for Dad would be a lot of fun, but we know it wouldn't be easy."
Thomas has a scholarship offer from San Jose State to play wide receiver. He also has an invite from Army to play quarterback and serve his country.
For now, the juggling act continues.
This Saturday, after the Hornets host Northern Colorado, Marshall will hustle over to Hughes Stadium to watch Jesuit take on Christian Brothers in the Holy Bowl.
Meanwhile, Mom will try to enjoy the day while untying the knots in her stomach.
"Kelle looks relaxed on the outside," Marshall said, "but she's dying internally. She's a typical football coach's wife and mom."
THE BEE'S TOP 20
PR Previous ranking
School W-L PR
1. Elk Grove 3-0 1
2. Franklin 3-0 3
3. Pleasant Grove 2-1 4
4. Nevada Union 2-1 2
5. Del Oro 0-2 5
6. Granite Bay 0-2 6
7. Burbank 2-0 11
8. Placer 2-0 8
9. Folsom 3-0 9
10. Oak Ridge 3-0 10
11. Grant 1-2 7
12. Cosumnes Oaks 3-0 12
13. Inderkum 2-0 14
14. Del Campo 1-2 13
15. Jesuit 2-0 17
16. Christian Bros. 3-0 20
17. Rio Linda 2-0
18. Antelope 2-1 15
19. Monterey Trail 1-1 16
20. El Camino 2-1 19
THIS WEEK'S SCHEDULE
Liberty Ranch at Gregori-Modesto
Mesa Verde at El Camino
Antelope at Woodcreek
Bella Vista at Yuba City
Brookside Christian at Rio Vista
Burbank at Del Oro
Casa Roble at Placer
Chico at Nevada Union
Cristo Rey at San Juan
Deer Valley at Folsom
Dixon at Winters
El Dorado at Golden Sierra
Elk Grove at Sheldon
Florin at Monterey Trail
Foothill at Rio Linda
Franklin at Cosumnes Oaks
Galt at Tokay
Grant at Oak Ridge
Highlands at Bear River
Johnson at Cordova
Lindhurst at Mira Loma
McClatchy at Capital Christian
Natomas at Center
Oakmont at Roseville
Pleasant Grove at Inderkum
River Valley at Marysville
Rosemont vs. Laguna Creek at Elk Grove High
Rocklin at Del Campo
Sacramento at River City
Union Mine at Ponderosa
Vacaville at Granite Bay
Valley vs. Pioneer at Cosumnes River College
Valley Christian at Delta
Vista del Lago at Bradshaw Christian
Wheatland at Lincoln
Woodland at Colfax
Woodland Christian at Foresthill
Davis at Rio Americano, 1 p.m.
Elliot Christian at Encina, 6 p.m.
Jesuit vs. CBS at Sacramento City, 7 p.m.
Vacaville Christian at Millennium, 7 p.m.
ACCESS SACRAMENTO GAME
Pleasant Grove at Inderkum on Friday night will be broadcast live on Access Sacramento (Ch. 17 on Comcast and SureWest, Ch. 99 on AT&T)