The last two summers and the two football seasons, Smith Center High School’s Dalton Kuhn has been focused on the ultimate dream.
The standout lineman for the Redmen football team and a state medalists wrestler, Kuhn has the simple goal of playing football at the collegiate level.
The 6-foot-2, 225-pounder feels as though he has put in the time and effort to get that task done. At this point it just seems a matter of what level and where Kuhn is going to get that opportunity.
“Weighing all the options when it comes to recruiting,” Kuhn said Wednesday as the 1-0 Redmen prepare to face MCL rival Phillipsburg in a 7 p.m. contest Friday night at Hubbard Stadium in Smith Center.
And the options for the stalwart defensive lineman are aplenty. The last two summers, Kuhn and his dad have spent countless hours at camps, and this fall the senior said it seems like every weekend he’s got a game or campus visit planned.
All the time put in, he said, is well worth it.
“That’s been my ultimate dream is to play college football,” Kuhn said. “If you want to do that, you have to pursue it. If you don’t pursue it, it’s not going to happen.”
That means the senior has put in extra time in the weight room during the summers, and that seemed to carry over to the rest of the Redmen as Smith Center looks to get over the hump that’s thwarted them the last two seasons and return to Hays’ Lewis Field Stadium, the site of the Class 2-1A state championship game.
“We all got in the weight room (this summer),” said Smith Center senior running back Jesse Staples. “Makes us get stronger, faster.”
That especially applies to Kuhn, who teammate Avery Hawkins described as a “man and a half.”
First of all, he is strong,” said Smith Center coach Darren Sasse. “He put the time in in the weight room, but he has got a motor.”
Despite cramping up from time to time in Friday’s 16-7 win against Plainville, Kuhn still managed eight tackles, three tackles for loss, and had a sack in the end zone toward the end of the game that put the win out of reach for the visiting Cardinals.
“The first game, you know,” Kuhn said. “We have some mistakes to correct, and if we’re able to overcome those, we should be pretty good.”
The Redmen know, though, it will take that effort and much more to hold off a Phillipsburg team that has owned the series as of late. Smith Center has just five losses the last two seasons, and three of them have come to Phillipsburg. One ended the Redmen season in the sub-state round two seasons ago.
“We really don’t talk about winning and losing,” Kuhn said. “We don’t discuss that. We’re happy to win and losing is hard. We just have to overcome that and get better.”
Getting better is what Kuhn is all about, especially as the senior hopes to build an even more solid resume (80 tackles, 15 TFLs as a junior). Not to mention the fact he anchors an offensive line in a run-dominant wishbone attack.
The first goal is getting Smith Center back to their home-away-from home in Hays.
The second and ultimate, he feels, will come with time.
“Division I is always the dream for anyone who wants to go on,” Kuhn said.
“I’m not against a Division II or juco or NAIA school, then transferring or whatever — if that’s what it takes.”