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Cuff carries on family state title tradition

OGDEN — Lone Peak's victory over Olympus in the 4A state championship game marked the first championship won by Knight's coach Ryan Cuff, but the territory probably isn't all that unfamiliar for the coach. For Cuff, state championships have become a family affair.

In fact, some may look at the family record and wonder why it took Ryan so long to finally win his first championship.

Ryan won a pair of state championships during his high school career while his older brother, Rob Cuff, has won two 5A state basketball championships while coaching down the road at Mountain View High School and garnered another as a player in 1985. Bob Cuff, the father, coached three championship teams in basketball and another title in baseball during his long tenure at Richfield High School bringing the number of trophies in the family display case to 10.

"I've had some great examples ahead of me," said Ryan. "I look up to them, my father and of course Rob.

They've helped so much and I owe a lot to them too." For the past week, Bob Cuff has sat in the stands and watched both of his sons coach their way through the grueling state tournament.

On Thursday he relived the low points of coaching as he saw Rob's squad upset in the 5A semi-finals, but followed it up with the emotional high of Ryan's championship the next day.

"It's something that's just incredible," said Bob. "Being in the coach fraternity for 30-plus years and knowing the highs and the lows. Seeing the highs now and I felt the lows yesterday with my son Rob. What a fantastic game this is for young people and for tremendous young men like Ryan and like Rob." Joining his father in the stands Saturday was Rob, who was quick to go onto the court and congratulate his brother after the game.

"I'm so happy for Ryan," Rob said. "It's a neat thing for him to get that first one. There's nothing sweeter then the first one. I'm just really proud of him." For the coaches of two rival teams, soon to be region foes, there doesn't seem to be much of an overly competitive spirit between the two brothers.

"It's pretty cool," said Rob of the family ties. "We kind of dread having to be in the same region next year but it's good to see him win one."

Bob Cuff says he's not surprised that his two sons both decided to follow in his footsteps and become coaching, although he might not have expected it.

"I'm not really surprised, I'm just thrilled that they did do that," Bob said. "It's something that's still in our family. I started coaching back in 1968 and to think that we're still going to high school basketball tournaments and still looking forward to state championships and winning a few once and a while, it's a thrill for all of our family to get together to watch this. It's a family affair you might say."

The family affair might grow into more of a friendly rivalry as Rob and Ryan will face each other twice every season while also fighting for the same state and region championships each year, but it probably won't become any less enjoyable for any of the Cuffs — especially the father.

"This is just such a fantastic game for high school sports," Bob said.

Next season Bob Cuff and the rest of the family will again be watching as both Ryan and Rob coach their teams through another season of high school basketball.

And, odds are that the family trophy collection will continue to grow alongside the Cuff coaching tradition.