GLENDALE, Ariz. — On New Year's Day, the No. 9 Oklahoma State Cowboys won the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl 37-35 over the No. 5 Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
It was a thrilling game that saw Notre Dame build a 28-7 lead in the 1st half before Oklahoma State roared back, scoring 30 unanswered points, then holding on to get the win.
But something you may not have noticed at the game was a connection to a high school football powerhouse here in the Valley.
Football can take you all across the country. But for one Oklahoma State coach, being able to play in the Fiesta Bowl and spend the week in the Valley is a special opportunity for him and his family.
"Who would have ever thought we'd end up in the Fiesta Bowl here?" Oklahoma State Quality Control Coach Brent Zdebski asked. "With (my dad, Mike) coaching at Hamilton now, it's been great."
Bowl season helped bring things full circle for the Zdebski family. Mike just finished his fourth season as head coach at Hamilton High School with a trip to the Open Division semifinals and win over crosstown rival Chandler. His son, Brent, is closing out his first season on Oklahoma State's coaching staff.
"Football's always been a constant in my life," Brent said. "I've never really known life without it. And I'm obviously thankful to have my dad, who provided a great opportunity and environment for me to fall in love with the game at an early age. Playing for him in high school was one of the best times of my life."
"(I) wouldn't change it for anything," Mike added. "That opportunity to have him there on a daily basis in school and to continue that relationship because when they get into high school they tend to separate from the parents a little bit more and that time is precious."
The man we call 'Coach Z' is the reason Brent pursued this profession. Their shared love for the game comes only second to the love they have for each other.
"Their relationship and how they can talk back and forth with each other and learn from each other and just listening to them talk is really amazing," Wendy Zdebski, Brent's mom and Mike's wife, said.
Brent couldn't have dreamed up a better ending to his first season in Stillwater with a win in the Fiesta Bowl in front of his family.
"(I have) no words to describe it," Brent said. "One of the coolest experiences of my life. (I'm) just thankful to be a part of it."