Kite flies high as top grid player
By KEVIN THOMPSON
Big-time players make big-time plays.
Drew Kite is the former and will be remembered for the latter.
For both, he is The Telegram's 2012 football player of the year.
Kite and his Scott City teammates completed a perfect season, including a dramatic comeback in the 3A state title game, featuring a Hollywood ending, co-starring the Beaver tight end.
As a senior on a talented team that won the state championship, Kite knows that he had a good season on both sides of the ball, but also that it took an entire team to make everything happen.
At 6-4, 215-pounds, Kite was a main target of senior quarterback Brett O'Neil, snagging 30 passes for 578 yards and 12 touchdowns. Four of those covered 68 yards in the championship victory, and the 12th TD catch was the most important.
On defense, Kite was involved in a team-leading 137 tackles from his linebacker position, 53 of them solo. He also recorded seven sacks, had five interceptions and one fumble recovery.
And the best memory of all is catching the game-winning touchdown against Silver Lake to give the Beavers their first state title since 1991.
His touchdown with 46 seconds left in the game gave Scott City its go-ahead score as the Beavers rallied from a 21-0 first-half deficit.
After three seasons of advancing in the playoffs but with no ultimate payoff, Kite said this final journey was important to a senior class that had devoted so much time to Scott City football.
It all starts with staying focused on the game at hand first while keeping an eye on the final prize.
"Every year we set goals, not just of state but first with the playoffs, then the second round, then third round. That's how Coach (Glenn) O'Neil keeps it, just looking forward to this game. Then once we get to state, then that's our goal," he said.
This class has had the title as a goal since their freshman year, he said, and this was their last chance.
But this journey itself was more of an odyssey that started long before the first day of practice. It's been in the making since his class first arrived in high school, and that means spending time in the weight room year round.
That work ethic paid dividends in the playoffs as the Beavers rolled over opponents until meeting Silver Lake.
In the title game, the Beavers were down 21-0 late in the first half. History will show how Scott City came back, but it won't chronicle what was going through players' minds when things were looking bleak.
"At one point, I was thinking, second's good, but it's not what you wanted," Kite said.
One coach who played on the second-place team in 1994 told him that second place was OK but that it would haunt them forever, making them think about all the what-ifs.
Instead, they now have stories of how it happened, including the game-winner.
"Before the play, the outside linebacker playing me was saying, 'Watch the sweep! Watch the sweep!' I was like, he's going to be playing the sweep so I'll probably run right past him. And I did, and Brett (O'Neil) made a great pass that was waiting for me right in the end zone," he said.
For a team used to rolling through competition, Kite said the dramatic comeback seemed almost providential, more memorable.
"People would ask, 'Don't you wish you would have won by more?' But at same time you don't because you're anxious, then all of sudden you're glorified by how you did it," he explained.
This is the third ring for Kite and a number of his fellow seniors, with basketball titles each of the past two years, and the odds-on-favorite for a third. Those were very special, but this one was even more so, Kite said.
"Football in Scott is so big. To not have won it in 20 years, that's something," he said.
Football or basketball in college? That is the question facing the two-sport all-stater.
"I've had more stuff for basketball, but now since I've had a good year, I'll get more with football," he said.
With his size, he said, football seems more the direction he's leaning.
Drew Kite profile
Weight: 215 pounds
School: Scott City
Position(s): Tight end/linebacker
Most memorable moment of 2012 season: Playing music in the field house after a home win.
Favorite athlete: DeSean Jackson.
Favorite food: Chicken fried steak.
Favorite class in school: Chemistry II.
Person(s) I most admire: Mom and dad.
If I could meet one person in the world, it would be: Daniel Tosh.
Favorite pasttime: Playing sports with the senior boys.
College plans: Undecided.
Area of intended study: Undecided.