KENNEWICK -- For the last 31 years there have been three constants with Kamiakin football.
Winning, defense and Tim Maher.
Maher, deferential with a capital 'D', has been a key cog in the Braves' success in wins and losses and in constantly having one of the best defensive units in the state.
Starting as a defensive coach in 1979 under Dan Purple, Maher was promoted to defensive coordinator in 1984 under Craig Beverlin.
Beverlin and Maher ran off some impressive statistics in their 25 seasons together, winning 73 percent of their games with only four losing seasons, reaching two semifinals and one state championship game (a 35-7 loss to Tacoma's Curtis in 1995).
"He is one of the best defensive coaches in the state and in the entire Northwest," said Beverlin, who stepped down after the 2008 season. "He is very intelligent. I'd say 50-70 percent of our success when I was there ... Tim deserves as much credit as anybody. I give him my highest compliment I can give."
In 2010 -- now under second-year coach Scott Biglin, who quarterbacked Pasco against Kamiakin a dozen years ago -- a lot of credit again goes to Maher, who has the Braves defense playing ball as good as anyone in the state.
Kamiakin has allowed just 95 points this season while running out to its 11-0 record and a spot in the Class 3A quarterfinals at 1 p.m. today against Mount Spokane at Lampson Stadium in Kennewick.
"I love the way he coaches," junior linebacker Drew Oord said. "He gets on you, but makes you want to try harder so he pats you on the back.
"It's demanding if you have the wrong mindset. You know he wants you to succeed, so you want to go out there and do great."
Do great is just what the Kamiakin defenses have done over the years.
Be it the 2003 team featuring Brent Rushin, Evan Ruud and Scott Davis (who went on to play linebacker at Washington State) or the 2006 team that allowed 6.2 points per game or the 2007 team that finished with 30 interceptions or this year's team that has state title thoughts dancing in fans' heads.
The present version of the Braves defense has allowed 212.6 yards per game -- just 73 yards rushing per game.
"We've had great football teams at Kamiakin," Maher said. "So our expectations are to match those accomplishments. The bar is high ... we know what it takes to get to that level. We are jumping 6-foot-5, not 5-foot-5."
Those expectations help drive his players even as time provides a bigger disconnect between the graying Maher and the youthful vitality of his players.
"He's older, but he acts like he's in high school," cornerback Shad Fletcher said.
"He's a very energetic, fun coach," defensive end Jon Allen added. "He'll get on you if you do something wrong, but he brings a lot of enthusiasm to the defense."
"He can get after you," linebacker Trevor Powers said, "but he knows what he's talking about and he knows what he is doing."
"I would think in the new millennium they probably find me a little abrasive," Maher said. "I don't think that way or feel that way when the day is over, but it's not a democracy. Football is not a democracy."
Perhaps Beverlin described it the best: "There are some young guys that are old and some old guys that are young. He is one of those older guys that is young. He is a disciplinarian. He is old school in the right way -- don't be a nice guy, but a good guy."
Maher has apparently been doing all of those things from the beginning.
He played at Royal and moved on to Washington State University, where a broken vertebrae ended his playing days. He became a graduate assistant with the football team and a boxing teacher in the physical education department. While on staff at Washington State, he worked under Jackie Sherrill and with assistants Mike Price and Bill Doba.
At some point, he decided $400 a month wasn't a good career plan and decided to get into teaching and coaching high school football. He moved to the Tri-Cities and was hired along with Purple. There was even a brief foray into arena football. In 2005, he was an assistant coach with the Tri-Cities Fever, winning the National Indoor Football League title.
At the end of the day, though, there is one thing Maher is proud of.
"To me what is important is what has happened at Kamiakin," he said. "This is not about me, this about Kamiakin. Everywhere I go in the football world, people understand we play great football here. That is a warm, warm feeling to be apart of that."