PREP FOOTBALL: Adrian's No. 10 a tall target

MINNEAPOLIS -- At 6 feet 7 inches tall, Adrian's Kyle Kilgore sticks out on a football field. But he's used to it. "I've been about 6-3 or 6-4 since seventh grade," Kilgore said. "So I'm kind of used to it by now." A sophomore on Adrian's footbal...

Adrian's Kyle Kilgore
Aaron Hagen/Daily Globe Adrian's Kyle Kilgore (10) steps out of a Mountain Lake/Butterfield-Odin tackle during a Section 3A first round matchup earlier this season. The Dragons will play Fosston in the Class A semifinals Friday at the Metrodome.

MINNEAPOLIS -- At 6 feet 7 inches tall, Adrian's Kyle Kilgore sticks out on a football field.

But he's used to it.

"I've been about 6-3 or 6-4 since seventh grade," Kilgore said. "So I'm kind of used to it by now."

A sophomore on Adrian's football team, Kilgore has made his presence known this season.

Taller than most of his teammates and opponents, Kilgore has caught 22 passes for 459 yards this year. Eight of Adrian's 11 passing touchdowns have gone his way.


"He's a basketball player, so he has some hops," starting quarterback Brett Nowotny said. "When he wants to, he can go up and grab it. He's 6-7, so his arms add another four feet to him. He has the ability to go up and get the ball where no one else can reach. It's pretty awesome, I'll tell you what."

It's something head coach Randy Strand has enjoyed, as well.

"At 6-7, 200 pounds and mobile, he gives you another weapon to use," Strand said. "He has a great pair of hands and he's not bad at going up and getting it. He has a lot of basketball skills that he's been able to use to his advantage."

This year has been Kilgore's first year on varsity, and he's made the most of his opportunity.

"It was a lot faster than I was used to," Kilgore said. "But I got used to it as it went along. I've had a great time this year."

Adrian (10-2) will continue its season on Friday at the Metrodome in the Class A state semifinals. The Dragons will face Fosston for the right to advance to the state championship.

But the road to the Dome wasn't easy. Adrian had to first get past a pesky St. Bernard's team in the quarterfinals.

"They had some real athletic receivers," Kilgore said. "They had some nice moves, they could stop on a dime and go back one way and make you look dumb."


In the end, Adrian came away with a 27-21 victory in overtime.

"I'm still just, 'Wow' about everything in my first year playing varsity football," Kilgore said. "That felt really good, coming out on top in an overtime game. We battled back and forth on offense, but we just ended up stepping up on 'D' in the overtime and held on for the win."

Kilgore did his part in the game. He caught both of Adrian's completed passes for 36 yards, including an eight-yard touchdown reception.

"We had one-on-one coverage, and they didn't double him that time," Nowotny said of the touchdown toss. "We saw it, I threw it up to him where I usually do and he did his job and went up and got it."

Since the first time Kilgore stepped on the field, the fade route has been successful.

"In the (Murray County Central) game we moved him in and started using him a little more," Strand said. "That's something, he's a sophomore, and we don't hand those things to kids. They have to earn them, and he's certainly done that for us."

Against MCC -- Adrian's second game of the season -- Kilgore made an immediate impact.

He caught five passes for 133 yards in the game. Four of those receptions went for 20-plus yards in a three-minute span early in the second quarter.


Since that game, Kilgore has improved with each passing week, according to his coach.

"He's come a long way in his confidence in his game," Strand said. "He knows when we go to him we expect him to deliver.

"We knew he was going to have the talent, watching him come up through the program; it's just a matter of him wanting it enough and getting after it."

Friday, Kilgore will face one of his toughest challenges yet.

Fosston (12-0) has two players 6-4 or taller to match up on Kilgore.

"Fosston has a 6-4 and a 6-5 guy, so I'm sure they're going to matchup with him real well," Strand said. "They are going to try to take him away from us. We still think he's good enough that he can still make the plays. We just have to pick and choose at the right time."

But for the Greyhounds, the passing game isn't their strength. Instead, that comes from their running game.

Mark Gross has rushed for 1,459 yards and 24 touchdowns. Andrew Juve adds another 823 yards and 10 scores.


"We have to be able to stop their run," Strand said. "They run a little belly series and we don't see a lot of that in our conference or in the teams we play. I think the last time we saw that was Springfield and that really didn't turn out too well for us last year. Hopefully, we've improved since then."

Fosston averages more than 40 points per game and is allowing less than seven.

"We haven't seen Fosston," Nowotny said. "They are 12-0; they are a new ballclub. They kind of run the option, but they don't look to pitch it too much. They like to run the ball, they have big guys up front, they have a good running back, their quarterback isn't too small so they are a good ball club. They're 12-0 and I think they've proven themselves, so hopefully we can prove to them that we're matched up against them."

If Fosston does throw the ball, Kilgore should be a dominant force defensively, too. He leads the team with four interceptions.

"It's different, but I like playing the pass and trying to jump for the ball for a pick," Kilgore said. "They have two receivers that are 6-4 and 6-5, so they have two tall receivers. They have a big fullback that's about 215 and 6-foot or so. They run the ball a lot, so that's what we're going to have to stop."

There's no secret what Adrian likes to do, either. Running back Brock Bullerman has rushed for 1,226 yards and 12 touchdowns this season. Adam has added 727 yards and 10 touchdowns of his own.

"We like to pound it, there's no secret for us either," Strand said. "We like to hit it over tackles and all of a sudden, we like to bounce it outside when we can. Brett's a capable passer and we've been able to do some things with that as well. Whatever they give us, we hope to take advantage of and that will kind of set up some other things."

Nowotny has completed 56 of 120 passes for 946 yards and 11 touchdowns. He has also rushed for 426 yards.


"We're going to do what we like to do and that's run the ball," Nowotny said. "If I have to throw, I'll do what I have to do to win."

With kickoff slated for 10:15 a.m., Adrian will look to make its second trip to the finals in three years.

"This is something kids dream about when they are kids, they watch football being played and someday they want to play in that big arena and play before big crowds and hopefully get to the state championship," Strand said. "Our kids have worked hard and they have put themselves in that position. Hopefully, we can give it our best shot."

What To Read Next
Get Local