Sept. 9, 2011
Brothers lead Bearcats into Saturday’s home opener
As amusing as the story is, it still doesn't top how meaningful it has been for brothers Kyle and Chad Kilgore to play four years together at Northwest Missouri State.
On Saturday, they will play their last home-opener for the Bearcats when Northwest takes on Sioux Falls at 6 p.m. on Mel and Carol Tjeerdsma Day.
Kyle, a fifth-year senior, plays tight end and Chad, also a senior, plays linebacker. Both are team captains.
"It has been a pretty cool experience," Chad said. "We have been playing together since the first grade. The only time we haven't played together was the year he was playing here and I was still in high school."
Kyle said, "It is definitely fun. We played together for so long that it was good he came up here and we had four more years together."
Back when they were playing high school football together at Excelsior Springs High School, they never thought Northwest would be the school they both would continue playing football for.
And here is the amusing part. Kyle and Chad went to the Northwest-Pittsburg State games at Arrowhead Stadium, sat on the Pittsburg State side and rooted for the Gorillas.
"I didn't know anything about Northwest," Chad said.
It was only natural for the Kilgore brothers to root for Pittsburg State. Their dad, Mark Kilgore, played for the Gorillas.
But when Pittsburg State didn't recruit Kyle, loyalties changed.
"Pitt really didn't give Kyle the time of day so he came up here so we automatically hated Pitt. State," Chad said.
Coach Adam Dorrel recruited the brothers and he knew he wanted to get Kyle and then Chad in Bearcat green.
Both players excelled on both sides of the ball in high school.
"Kyle was actually an all-state defensive lineman in high school," Dorrel said. "Chad was an all-state tailback. Honestly, when I recruited Kyle, he wanted to be a defensive lineman. I said no, you are going to play tight end. I'm glad we did that."
The numbers for Kyle are deceptive. Last year he caught 19 passes for 270 yards and one touchdown. He unselfishly surrendered some of his offensive numbers when transfer Josh Baker came in.
Kyle did the little things that go unnoticed to help the Bearcats win. He started in 12 of 14 games.
"I don't think Kyle gets credit a lot of times," Dorrel said. "He's a great pro style tight end. He can catch passes and run block. He can block at the point of attack. We pull him a lot. He's good with screen passes and things of that nature.
"Unfortunately, for him, we have a lot of weapons and he gets lost in the shuffle sometimes. He's very unselfish. That's why kids voted him team captain."
Last year Chad was a dominating force on a defense dominated by seniors. He led Northwest in tackles with 131 and had three sacks. He earned first-team All-MIAA.
They are both leaders on a somewhat youthful Northwest team.
"First off, they are both good kids," Dorrel said. "They brought toughness to our football program."
It has worked out well that the Kilgore's wear green on Saturday instead of one wearing green and another wearing the colors of another school.
"I can't explain in words how ecstatic my mom was when I decided to come here," Chad said. "She was all about us coming here together. Our parents don't have to split up on the weekends. Both just root for one team."
Obviously, the Kilgore's want to make their last season of playing football together as memorable as possible.
They have already experienced three MIAA titles, two national championship games and one national title.
With so many new starters, there was some uncertainty about the team entering the season. The 65-3 victory at Truman State eased those concerns.
"We got a lot of young guys playing. It was good they were executing the plays the right away. They weren't too nervous. That was good to see," Kyle said.
This week the Bearcats are focused on Sioux Falls, a NAIA power that has moved to NCAA Division II. In Sioux Falls last five years in the NAIA, it went 69-2 with three national titles.
"They lost a tough game to Washburn who has played us tough in the past," Kyle said. "The coaches have definitely made a point of us not looking at them as a NAIA team."
Dorrel said Sioux Falls is similar to Minnesota-Duluth, a team that ended the Bearcats' pursuit of another Division II title last season in the semifinals.
"Those kids at Sioux Falls are naturally tough kids," Dorrel said. "Their schemes are really good. Those kids are not going to be intimidated when they come in here. I've hammered that home to our kids."
Dorrel knows he has players just like that and two of them are the Kilgore brothers, and they are going to do everything possible to help the Bearcats have another championship season.
It would be the best way for them to enjoy their final season playing football together.
"It's a cool experience to play with your brother and have your family there all the time," Chad said. "We live in the same house. He is always there. It's easier.
"It is definitely a special feeling. I don't know how to explain it."
An explanation is not needed. Anybody who believes in the power of family knows exactly what he means.
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