Scott Secules grew up around football. He would go and watch practice while his father, Tom, was an assistant coach at Annandale High School. He would throw the ball around with the players and coaches. Between practices he would go down to Seven-Eleven and fill his pockets up with candy.
"He knew all of the coaches and he knew most of the kids that were playing at that time," said Tom. "He was like a little ball boy."
But Secules didn’t play organized football when he was a kid. He was on the swim team and played sports like tennis, soccer and basketball. The first time he put on a uniform to play football was in the ninth grade.
"The recommendation was to start in high school," said Secules.
The football coaches around him, including his father, were constantly fixing the wrong fundamentals that were taught in youth organizations.
"That doesn’t mean that we didn’t beat the devil out of each other down on the corner without a lick of pads on," said Secules. "That was just kind of the way it worked."
WHEN SECULES joined the Chantilly Chargers as a freshman, he began to make up for lost time. He played football and baseball all four years for the Chargers, and basketball for three years.
"I dropped basketball my sophomore year and I just about drove myself crazy," he said.
When Secules joined the Chantilly squad, his father was the head coach of South Lakes.
"I sort of would have liked to have been able to [coach him]. He wanted to stay and be able to play at Chantilly with his friends," said Tom. "All my coaches at South Lakes wanted him to come, but I knew that wasn’t going to happen." The Secules played each other twice while Scott was in high school.
"It was a stressful week in the Secules house. I think that Mom probably had the worst of it being smack in the middle," said Scott.
In Secules’ senior year, the Chargers won the Potomac District championship and Secules was named the all-region quarterback.
"He was a big, strong and intelligent kid," said former Annandale coach Bob Hardage, who coached against Chantilly when Secules was the Chargers' QB and also recalls Secules, as a young boy, running around the Atoms' practices.
HIS HIGH school success brought college interest. Secules took recruiting visits to Maryland, Notre Dame and Virginia. He chose to play in Charlottesville.
"I thought that the program was heading in a good direction and I had the chance to be a part of building something," he said. "I really felt strongly at that point in my life that playing in the NFL wasn’t anywhere on the radar, so the degree that I left with was really important."
Before Secules headed off to UVA to play college ball, he was given the opportunity to play in the state high school all-star game. During the first half, Secules broke his foot.
"I played the rest of the first half and walked off the field and went to the hospital," he said.
Secules showed up to UVA with a cast on his foot.
"It ended up leading me to a fifth year, which was probably the greatest thing that could happen to me," he said.
After playing as the backup quarterback for three years, Secules was given his chance to start and, again, made up for lost time. In 1987, he was an all-ACC selection and was named Virginia’s football player of the year. He set records for pass attempts in a game, completions in a game, consecutive games passing for 200 yards or more, and passing yards in a season. When he finished his final year, he placed second in career passing yards with 3,388 and totaled 18 touchdowns.
The Cavaliers finished with an 8-4 record that year and defeated Brigham Young University in the All-American Bowl, 22-16. Secules ran for a touchdown and passed for another in the victory.
"All of a sudden these guys start calling you and everybody wants you to work out with them," said Secules. "These articles start popping out and this young guy named Mel Kiper is talking about you."
THE DALLAS Cowboys drafted Secules in legendary coach Tom Landry’s last year. Secules went to training camp and made the team but never played.
"I was the last quarterback on the depth chart," he said. "I had clipboard duty."
In his second season, Secules was traded to the Miami Dolphins and learned from another legendary coach in Don Shula. After four years working behind Dan Marino, Secules became a free agent and signed with Bill Parcells’ New England Patriots. There, Secules started five games before a shoulder injury ended his season. Secules totaled 918 yards and threw two touchdowns in those five games. The following year, Secules was released by the Patriots.
"The amazing thing now looking back was that I was given the opportunity to play games," said Secules. "I started probably five of six games in my whole career but it was a great experience to know that I got to [play in the NFL] for six years."
Secules now runs the external side of the Southern Methodist University athletic department and has three children with his wife, Tammy. He hopes to one day run a Division I athletic department.
Being one of the few high school football players to make it to the college and professional levels, Secules is happy to have had the chance to play.
"You always think about the folks that you have played with and the coaches that have impacted your life and the camaraderie that comes from getting a group of guys together that are striving to do one thing," he said. "That is valuable at any level."
Scott Secules is 53 in a survey of the area's Top 100 Athletes by Connection Newspapers in 2000.