Lummi senior quarterback Jared Tom didn't have to look far to find somebody to idolize when he was younger.
His half brother, Dustin Tom, starred behind center for the Blackhawks from 2005 to 2008, leading Lummi to the Class 1B state semifinals the first three times in school history and to the 2006 state title game.
"I looked up to him," said Jared, who has the same father as Dustin. "He was great. ... He was a good runner and a good passer."
Now that he's in his second year calling signals, Jared has the Blackhawks back in the 1B semifinals, as they will play rival Neah Bay at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 24, at the Tacoma Dome.
"I love these games against Neah Bay," Tom said. "They have so much intensity in them."
That intensity has really picked up the past four years since Dustin graduated, as this will be the fourth straight year the two teams have met in the state playoffs. Lummi won in 2009 and 2010 in the semifinal round, while Neah Bay ended the Blackhawks' season last year in the quarterfinals.
Even though Dustin didn't play in any playoff games against the Red Devils, he had his share of big games during his career.
And he certainly put up some awfully big numbers.
When Dustin graduated after the 2008 season, he held the state 1B passing record with 9,702 yards passing in 48 games. Two players have since passed that mark, but Dustin still owns the record for most passing yards in a season with 5,268 in 2008. He also has two of the three 600-plus-yard single-game passing performances in 1B state history, the third-most pass completions in his career (569), the most pass completions in a game (46), the second most passing touchdowns in his career (120) and the most passing TDs in a season (64 in 2008).
No wonder Jared decided to wear No. 10 - the same number that Dustin did so proud in Lummi black and maroon.
"I think Dustin definitely helped him as a role model, more than anything," Lummi coach Jim Sandusky said. "Dustin was pretty quiet. I know Jared always looked up to him. He was an eighth-grader when Dustin was a senior, so at least they were on the same team for a year. Jared wanted to be just like him."
Though the numbers might not quite stack up to Dustin's, it's safe to say that Jared has succeeded in that goal.
"There's not a super big difference between the two of them," said Sandusky, who admits he's called Jared by his brother's name a few times even this season. "Dustin was probably more elusive as a runner, strength-wise. He was tough to bring down because of his size. Jared is more elusive because of his quickness and his moves. Their arm strength wasn't super-human, and both had flaws in their mechanics, but they both seem to get the ball where it needs to be."
That's for sure, as Jared is starting to put his name in the state's 1B record books alongside Dustin's.
Jared's nine touchdown passes against Tulalip in the regular-season finale rank as the second most thrown by a 1B quarterback (10 is the record by three quarterbacks, including Lummi's Andrew Jefferson in 2005).
He's also only 341 yards shy of becoming the 13th 1B quarterback to pass for 4,500 yards in his career.
Jared, who like Dustin has a quiet disposition, gives his brother credit for giving him advice on how to run Lummi's high-octane system.
"He told me not to panic and not to rush anything," Jared said.
Sandusky believes growing up watching his brother lead the Blackhawks also gave him a head start on learning how to run it.
But on defense, Jared probably made even more of an impact than his brother did.
"Defensively, he has become a force for us," Sandusky said. "He comes up, hits hard and makes tackles. He's got a good presence for us at linebacker. ... I probably protected Dustin a little bit too much when he played for us. I had other guys that could play that position then, but I probably should have played him at linebacker a little more."
Though Jared hopes to make an impact on both sides of the ball Saturday, he said football is no longer his top priority - not since he and his girlfriend found they were expecting a daughter on Jan. 1.
"Football isn't as important to me as it used to be," Tom said. "Last year, it was my main priority, but my priorities have changed."
Because of those changes, Jared has missed a handful of practices this year so that he could be with his girlfriend for doctor's appointments.
"I felt I needed to be at those appointments," Tom said. "I know the offense already, and I just need to check in with Coach for any changes."
But because of the missed practice time, team rules have prevented him from starting a few games, including last week's first-round win over Taholah. In fact, a back injury and missed practices forced Jared to completely miss Lummi's victories over Muckleshoot, Clallam Bay and Lopez in October.
Obviously, Jared's numbers aren't quite the same this season. After passing for 2,364 yards and 35 touchdowns as a junior, he has 1,795 yards and 27 TDs this year. In the two seasons combined, he's only thrown six interceptions. Jared also has rushed for 205 yards and eight TDs this year, down from the 558 yards he accumulated in 2011.
Jared's reduced workload means the Blackhawks have been able to develop Logan Toby (746 yards, 13 TDs) and Dimitri Sampson (385 yards, 6 TDs) a little more behind center, Sandusky said.
For a coach, who must worry about everything, that's been a blessing to help prepare for the unlikely event that Jared's daughter arrives early - for example, like during Saturday's semifinal or a potential championship game next week.
"It's one of those things we can't be left hanging going with Jared every game and then go to the semifinal or final and have something like that come up, and understandably, he'd be gone," Sandusky said. "We need to be prepared. It's tough. It's tough to handle as a team. I don't want to go the other way where we're not playing him at all, but we can't put all our eggs in one basket. It's been a balancing act, and I think Logan and Dimitri have done a great job running our offense when Jared isn't in there."
But Jared is planning to be there on Saturday and - if all goes right for the Blackhawks against Neah Bay - again Dec. 4 to help Lummi go for its second state title in three years.
But Jared knows as well as anyone that getting past the defending champion Red Devils is no easy task.
"They bring out the best in us," Jared said. "We just need to finish the game. We can't let up at all."
Reach David Rasbach at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-715-2286.
LYNDEN VS. CAPITAL
Time: 1 p.m. Friday, Nov. 23
Site: Tacoma Dome
TV: ROOT Sports
MOUNT BAKER VS. MONTESANO
Time: 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 24
Site: Tacoma Dome
LUMMI VS. NEAH BAY
Time: 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 24
Site: Tacoma Dome
Reach DAVID RASBACH at email@example.com or call 715-2271.