Mountainside's Mannion blazing his own trail
Yes, Brian Mannion's brother Sean plays in the NFL.
Yes, his father John is his head coach at Mountainside.
But don't for a second get it twisted — the Mavericks' senior quarterback loves football for his own reasons.
"It's definitely in my life, whether I like it or not," Brian Mannion said with a laugh. "But I do love playing football and there's no other sport I'd rather be playing."
That's good news for Mountainside, for Mannion has done more than his share in consecutive wins over Sherwood, Beaverton, Sunset, and Southridge.
In his team's upset win over the Apollos Oct. 8, the 6-foot-2 signal-caller completed 17 of his 24 pass attempts for 215 yards and three touchdown passes, in addition to scoring the game-winner when he plunged into the endzone from two yards out in overtime.
The win was big for a lot of reasons, but after a trio of defeats to start the year, the timing couldn't have been better for a Mountainside team looking to build a resume and some momentum for the fast-approaching state playoffs — and maybe more.
"The way we've rallied back over the last three weeks has definitely put us in a position to do some things," the quarterback said. "If we take these next three weeks just as serious and put some more wins together, we can put ourselves in a spot for potentially a playoff game or potentially a home playoff game, and I think we're still in the running for the Metro League championship. And that's just because of how hard we've worked."
Mannion isn't afraid of a little hard work. In fact, he's been putting in the time since taking up the game in the second grade.
When his family moved to Silverton in 2010 after his brother Sean began his highly successful run at Oregon State, Brian began learning both directly and indirectly from his football father. From elementary school through middle school, the youngest of four Mannion children would take the bus after school to the high school to watch his dad's team practice. Afterwards he'd walk to his field and practice with his team, never tiring of the game and the process to get better, ever-learning from the elder statesmen he repeatedly rubbed shoulders with.
"I learned so much during those times and I remember when I was the ball boy for that team," Mannion said. "I have a lot of great memories of that time with my dad and those guys, it's hard to think that now I'm in their spot."
He's been in that spot since he got the start midway through his sophomore year at Mountainside. Since then, he's grown physically, which he obviously said has helped him, but has also grown mentally — thanks in part to his brother, who was able to spend last spring mentoring Brian on the nuances of the position.
Brian Mannion was six when Sean started his career at Oregon State, and a preteen when Sean first suited up for the Los Angeles Rams in 2015. Because of that, his time with his brother had been somewhat limited, but with COVID-19 moving last year's high school season to the spring, Sean was able to help the Mavericks — and especially his brother — hone their craft on the field.
"Having him there every day at practice was super-helpful, and it was just fun to be around him," Brian Mannion said. "He taught me a lot of little tips and tricks, as well as ways to read the defense pre-snap and other stuff."
And it hasn't stopped. Sean Mannion recently returned to the Vikings, where he spent the previous two seasons as a backup to Minnesota starter Kirk Cousins, but Brian Mannion said his brother watches all of his games and frequently texts or calls him before and after games to discuss what he should or did do.
Some might feel pressure having an older sibling playing at the game's highest level, but the younger Mannion said he doesn't feel it.
"It's cool for sure (having a brother in the NFL), but I don't really think about there being pressure too much," Brian Mannion said. "The main thing is, I don't want people to think I'm a good quarterback because of my brother. I want them to understand that I have to do the work and whatever I do or accomplish is not because of who my brother is, but because of who I am and the work I do."
And then, of course, there's Brian Mannion's father.
Coach John Mannion's intensity is legendary in these parts, but that intensity and his dedication to the sport, his team, and his players has resonated with the coach's youngest son, and Brian appreciates having his dad by his side as he navigates the high school game.
"It's definitely interesting, but I wouldn't want to have it any other way," Brian Mannion said. "I see his commitment when he's breaking down film on weekends, and I'm used to that intensity. It keeps me focused and motivated and you can tell he cares about it and the players a lot."
Mannion isn't entirely sure what his future holds. He wants to play in college, and schools big and small have shown interest. He's averaging more than 200 yards a game passing, is completing 60 percent of his throws, and has thrown just four interceptions on the year. But for now, he's focused on the task at hand: winning games for Mountainside High School.
"I think we've only gotten better, and I think we of all teams know that anything can happen on a given Friday night," Mannion said, referring to when Mountainside knocked off top-ranked Tigard in the second round of the 2019 state playoffs. "We just need to keep improving, keep getting wins, and anything can happen."
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.