ANDOVER, Minn. - Football, especially defensive football, runs in the Dehnicke family.
"He's got a great football mind, he's a hard worker, really, really passionate, " says Andover head coach Rich Wilkie about Adam Dehnicke.
The latest to carry the torch is Adam, a 37-year-old defensive coordinator for Andover High School.
Adam and his twin brother Drew played for Coon Rapids, where their Dad, Dan Dehnicke, a former coach, was the Athletic Director.
The Dehnicke's are well-respected in Minnesota's football community and are known for being hard-nosed players and coaches.
But no amount of toughness, could prepare Adam emotionally for the news he received this spring about his then, two week old son, Howie.
"I kind of pride myself on being kind of the rock and being strong for the family and I lost it, " says Adam.
Howie was born with a cancerous mass near his spinal column. A seven hour surgery to remove the tumor only netted 15 percent, the rest was left inside in his tiny body.
And for now, the plan is to observe the cancer and wait to see if it grows.
"He's a great baby, he's normal, he's growing he's doing all that, sometimes we step back and think he still has cancer, " said Adam.
"We remain optimistic and have a lot of faith, but at the same time you hold your breath every test and every day, " said Brooke Dehnicke, Adam's wife.
Adam and his wife Brooke have a lot going on. Besides Howie, they have growing twins in 6 year olds Hudson and Reese.
Maybe it's a good thing that there's so much energy, so much life happening right now.
It keeps the Dehnicke family moving forward instead of being paralyzed by the uncertainty of Howie's future. Faith will do that. And their faith is strong.
Just a few years ago, Adam and Brooke lost a four month old child, Maisie, to a chromosome disorder.
So you see, they've already been tested more than any parents should.
"We have, yeah, we're grateful for every day and grateful for health we certainly live each day to the fullest, " says Brooke.
Football is a welcome distraction for a young father who's already been through a lot and knows there could be even more personal challenges ahead.
But he's not in this alone.
"You know when somebody in your football family or your immediate family is going through something difficult like that –everybody's going through it, " said Rich Wilkie, Andover head football coach.
Adam's football family has his back - which makes Andover's Tackle Cancer game this month even more special.
"Hopefully we can get a cure for this goofy, evil disease, so (Howie coos) you agree buddy (laugh)," said Adam.