NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — It is the year after four years of Arch Manning at Isidore Newman School. The new starting quarterback is Eli Friend, a bruiser, who could be known as much for his running as his passing. 

“He’s real strong, he’s a 500 pound dead lifter,” Greenies football head coach Nelson Stewart said. “Super fast, he adds a little different dimension.”

The fact that the young man replacing Manning is named Eli is, on its own, ironic. But there’s something else different about Friend.

His mom, Erin, was the high school sweetheart of head coach Nelson Stewart. 

WGNO Sports Director Ed Daniels asked the question, “So, to coach your ex-girlfriend’s son?”

“It is an experience,” Stewart said in the midst of laughter. “One, it makes me feel like I am pretty old. I was just playing a few years ago. I remember texting her the first day I saw him throw a football in pre-K, and she said ‘hands off.’ Then she became the school nurse, and it became a little easier.”

When they were in high school, both decided on Tulane. Nelson Stewart stayed. Erin, in a last minute audible, went to the University of Indiana where she met her future husband, Asher Friend. Eli’s mom, dad, and head coach still laugh about the unique connection to this day.

When asked if there’s added pressure, Coach Stewart chuckled and said, “Hopefully she knows me and trusts me, but she will be hard on me if I screw it up…you will see her in the sky deck, and she will yell down a lot.”

Eli knew the question was coming.

“It is definitely strange,” Friend said with a grin, “but it has definitely helped my relationship with Coach Stew. I have known him a long time. And, it has definitely progressed the relationship.”

Eli is the first offspring of a Nelson Stewart classmate that he coaches. And, in the year after Arch, he’s glad to have Eli. 

Since he played running back and other positions during the Manning era, Ed Daniels asked, “Are you curious as to what you can do?”

“I have not played quarterback on the varsity level yet. I have been moving around. So, I am really curious to see what happens this year.”

And, so is Eli’s mom.