Eash, Monferdinis

Illinois Wesleyan football coach Norm Eash, center, had Pete Monferdini as a senior on Eash's first Titan team in 1987 and has Nicholas Monferdini as a senior on this season's IWU squad.

JIM BENSON, THE PANTAGRAPH

BLOOMINGTON — Nicholas Monferdini has heard all the stories about the playing days of his father, Pete, at Illinois Wesleyan.

"He exaggerates a lot," said the younger Monferdini, a 6-foot-5, 290-pound senior offensive tackle for the Titans.

Hearing that comment, Pete Monferdini just laughs.

"I have to (exaggerate) because I wasn't as good as him," he said.

While many father-son combinations have played for the same school, the Monferdinis share a unique bond. Both played for the Titans under the same coach.

In fact, Pete Monferdini played for Norm Eash not only at IWU but also Dwight High School.

Pete Monferdini was a two-way lineman at Dwight during Eash's first two years as Trojans' coach in 1982-83. Monferdini then went to IWU before hearing from Eash in 1987.

"He called to tell me he was interviewing here (at IWU)," said Monferdini.

Eash got the IWU head coaching position. That fall, Monferdini was a senior guard on Eash's first Titan team.

Now, 30 years later, another Monferdini is enjoying his IWU senior season.

Eash has coached the sons of his former Titan teammates from the 1970s. However, the Monferdinis are the first father-son duo to play for him at IWU.

"There's similarities between Pete and Nick, no doubt about it," said Eash. "Both of them are very intense players who play hard. They're not rah-rah guys. They're the types of players who bring a lunch pail and go to work and get the job done."

Other than getting a little older, Pete Monferdini said Eash "hasn't put any weight on" and appears to be the same as he was in 1987.

"He wasn't a screamer or yeller then, and I don't think he is now," said Monferdini. "I don't think his demeanor has changed much. He's always been a confident, quiet leader."

Eash said he developed a close relationship with Pete's parents, John and Louise, when he was teaching and coaching at Dwight.

When Eash began recruiting Nicholas Monferdini at Morton High School, he was hoping his longtime ties to the Monferdini family would pay off.

"I thought it would be good for him to stay close to home and everyone could watch him play," said Eash.

Pete Monferdini and his wife, Joi, met while they were students at IWU. But his parents' connections to the school didn't sway Nicholas Monferdini to the IWU campus.

"Most of the schools I looked at were small-town areas. I thought this had the best education-wise for me," said Nicholas Monferdini, a financial services management major.

Pete Monferdini didn't try to do much arm twisting.

"I told him I appreciated my time at Wesleyan. I had a good time as a student and athlete, but I really wanted him to choose it," said the older Monferdini. "He was fortunate that he was looking at a lot of schools. I didn't want to make the decision for him. I did tell him my time here was positive and that I did like coach (Eash)."

Ironically, both Monferdinis came to IWU defensive linemen. Pete was switched to guard as a junior, while Nicholas moved to offense midway through his freshman year.

As a former lineman, Pete Monferdini tries to help his son out as much as possible.

"He watches my practice film and sends me notes on it, which is kind of annoying," said the younger Monferdini, a second-team all-College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin selection last year.

One of the best things for Pete Monferdini is when he encounters former teammates at IWU games.

He can point to No. 59 on the field and say another Monferdini is playing for their old coach.

"It's really cool. It's a lot of fun. I get to show him off to a lot of guys I played ball with and went to school with," said Pete Monferdini. "It's kind of unique that we're near here, so we get friends to come here. My wife and I both have friends come to watch him play."

Follow Jim Benson on Twitter: @Pg_Benson

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