Brothers by bond, friends through football

The Garrison family (left to right), Renee, Michael Sales, Anna, Trevor and Dave stand in their backyard. The family welcomed Sales into their home in September of 2010. (Photo by Nick Clark)
The Garrison family (left to right), Renee, Michael Sales, Anna, Trevor and Dave stand in their backyard. The family welcomed Sales into their home in September of 2010. (Photo by Nick Clark)

It’s just past 6:30 p.m. at Dave and Renee Garrison’s Champlin home. Dinner has been served, and cleaned up. The yard work is nearly done. And the boys are restless.

That last part hasn’t changed much in recent weeks, and it wasn’t likely too on this night.

Exactly 30 minutes and four weeks later, those boys will be taking the field for the 2012 Champlin Park High School football season debut by hosting defending Class 5A state champion Eden Prairie.

In every sense of their imagination, it can’t come soon enough.

“I’d play it tomorrow if we could,” said one.

“Yeah,” added the other, “the waiting is the worst part.”

It’s unlikely there is another household in all of the Champlin Park school district where the collective patience is being tested like this.

Under one roof lives both the Rebels’ starting quarterback, and the star running back.

They aren’t brothers by blood, but other than the color of their skin, there is no telling Trevor Garrison and Michael Sales apart.

Both are wiry, multi-sport athletes at the climax of their high school careers, asked to be leaders in the community, the school, on the football field, and on the basketball court.

They share friends, meals, a car, and a home.

And that they’ve come to live together was almost expected since middle school.

The two met in fifth-grade when Sales and his family moved into the district, and they were teammates on the basketball court within a year.

By the time the two were entering their sophomore year, their friendship was as strong as the lineman that will be blocking for them in a few weeks.

But there was an impending hiccup confronting both. Sales’ mother was looking to move out of the district, searching for a better life.

Michael wanted none of it.

“She wanted a new environment, but I didn’t want to go,” Sales said. “She moved to Mounds View (and has since moved to Florida), and I didn’t want to transfer. I wanted to stay at Champlin Park.”

The Garrisons were fully aware. They had a hand raising Sales through his adolescent years. They helped get him to practices, and had the young man sleep over enough that, as Renee remembers, “it already seemed like he was living here.”

In September of 2010, he finally was. The Garrisons met as a family, holding court with their two daughters (Courtney and Anna) and Trevor to discuss the possibility. When they decided to welcome Sales in, they built a makeshift bedroom in the basement, and headed to the grocery store.

“That first week we went through 11 gallons of milk,” Renee said. “We had to make some adjustments, but we sat down and said we could do this. We laid out the rules, and said this is how it is going to work – if you don’t get your stuff done here, you don’t get to play there.”

In return, Michael had to follow a much stricter code than the restrictions he had before moving in. There were homework rules, and chores. There were, as expected, also some growing pains.

The friendship Michael and Trevor had built turned into a brotherhood. And it would be tested.

“There are times they’ve almost come to blows, just like brothers,” Dave said. “We’ve had some interesting conversations.”

Most came last winter, when Sales was rehabilitating from a shoulder surgery that cost him his junior season of high school basketball.

Trevor was playing ball, but not up to his own standards. Tempers were hot, and touchy.

“I was frustrated because I couldn’t play, and he was frustrated because he wasn’t playing well,” Sales said. “I think we just got on each others nerves. But it’s all good now.”

The hope is it is much better in the coming months.

The expectations leading up to a football season have rarely been this high at Champlin Park, and even a full week before practice officially begins, the potential is being discussed almost daily in the Garrison household.

With Garrison under center, Sales in the backfield, and a cast of teammates loaded with talent in almost every position, this group has rarely lost at any age level.

The pressure to do it in this, their final season together in the community, is unavoidable.

“Everybody wants to talk about it,” said Trevor. “We feel a lot of pressure on ourselves, but we also feel we are ready to show people what we can do. No one should have any doubt on this team. We know we are good.”

They’ll find out just how good when Eden Prairie comes to town Aug. 30, and again for the seven weeks that will follow.

Back at the dining room table, each of those games will be dissected and discussed. The Garrisons wouldn’t seem to want it any other way.

“I know that family really loves Michael,” said Champlin Park head coach Mike Korton. “When you feel good about yourself, it shows. You can see that in Michael, and that family has a lot to do with it. To know that is where my quarterback and running back are going when they go home, that’s pretty good. They love their sports, and they love those kids.”