BILLINGS – It takes quarterbacks and receivers weeks or months, if not years, to develop the chemistry necessary to become an elite duo.
It’s that familiar relationship that allows a quarterback and receiver to identically identify weaknesses in a defense, permitting the quarterback to accurately throw the ball where his receiver is going to be. It usually takes countless repetitions to get to that point.
But not always. Bryson and Braydon Deming have had that connection their entire lives, and it’s paying big dividends for the Billings West Golden Bears.
“They changed something, they saw something, they had that little twin extraterrestrial, or whatever you call it, thing going, and they hit a little slant for a touchdown,” West coach Rob Stanton recalled from the Bears’ 31-28 win over Great Falls CMR earlier this season.
“(Bryson, the quarterback) looked over and he changed the play, and we trust what Bryson will do,” Stanton continued. “You’ve been playing catch with your brother since you’ve been 4 years old, so there’s a comfort with them two.”
West’s star senior duo – both have verbally committed to play for Bob Stitt and the Montana Grizzlies – has the Bears, ranked fourth in the MontanaSports.com Class AA football poll, sitting pretty in the standings. Their lone loss came against crosstown rival, and favorite to win the state championship, Billings Senior.
That result aside, West has won three games on the gridiron (and a fourth by virtue of Missoula Hellgate’s forfeit). All three games have been decided by single digits – 14-7 over Helena Capital in the season opener and a 35-34 overtime win at Missoula Big Sky in addition to the three-point win at CMR.
Bryson probably enjoys the dramatics a bit more than his brother. He’s the more social of the two, talkative and engaging, traits naturally befitting of a quarterback. Braydon is quieter, more direct with his words and unassumingly funny.
Other than that, though, the two say they’re similar, with sports being the most obvious common interest. Both are three-sport athletes – football in the fall, basketball in the winter and track and field in the spring.
“I love the elite three-sport athlete that is almost extinct, and we still have two left,” said Stanton, who also coaches the boys during the spring track and field season. “I love the fact that they do all three sports. If you ask them their favorite sport, it’s whatever they’re playing. I just love the expectations. They’re tougher on themselves than we are as coaches on them.”
Nobody has higher expectations for the brothers than they do – both for themselves and each other.
They’re not afraid to hold each other accountable for bad plays or bad practices. Sometimes tempers flare during practice when brotherly love turns to sibling rivalry.
“We get along well now,” Braydon said. “A couple years ago, we were knocking heads in everything.”
“We really battled when we were younger,” Bryson confirmed, “but the relationship now is pretty good.”
That relationship has continued to grow on and off the field. They’ve been teammates since birth – Braydon is 30 minutes older – and rarely do anything without the other. The have a similar course load at school, practice together and naturally hang out at home together.
“It’s great,” Braydon said. “You always have a buddy, so you’re not doing anything alone.”
“There’s times it gets old a little bit,” he added. “But it’s better more than it’s a burden.”
The only burden is on opposing defenses tasked with slowing West’s twin tandem. They’re the ideal complements to one another: the confident, cerebral quarterback meshing with the physical, focused receiver.
“He’s big, he’s physical, he’s got good hands, runs good routes,” Bryson said of his brother. “He wants the ball, that’s the way to put it. He’s a playmaker. You get playmakers the ball and let them do their thing.”
The two have connected for three touchdowns through the first half of the season, two of which have gone for more than 60 yards. More touchdowns are sure to come, especially if West is to achieve its first goal of finishing in one of the top four positions of the Class AA standings at the end of the regular season.
The Demings were freshmen when West suffered its winless season in 2013. The Bears are gradually crawling back up the standings and qualified for the playoffs each of the past two seasons – as the No. 8 seed in 2014 and No. 7 in 2015.
Both seasons ended in first-round playoff exits, so the Bears want more this November.
“We want to just go out with a bang,” Braydon said. “Just show these kids – lead by example and kind of show them how it’s done.”
If they do, that “twin thing” will keep paying big dividends.