Victoria duo part of Eight-Man All-Star roster
By CONOR NICHOLL
Veteran Victoria High School football coach Doug Oberle recently was driving to his graduating seniors' houses to pass out graduation gifts. He first went to Tanner Hobbs' house, a multi-year starter and only child.
Oberle went to Trenton Klaus' home next. On the drive, it dawned on Oberle that he would never have another Hobbs to coach nor another Klaus. Trenton's only sibling, older brother Blake, played on the state runner-up team in 2008.
Oberle wouldn't coach another Roth. Austin Roth played running back several years ago, and Clayton Roth graduated this spring. All three Ottleys have now graduated with Sam, the starting quarterback the last two years, moving on this spring.
Plus, Oberle will not have another Kuhn. Dylan and Nathan, a senior last fall, have held down the starting center/nose guard positions the last few seasons. While Oberle has plenty of talent coming back for 2014, it felt like a change.
"It was kind of surreal when I was driving out there," said Oberle, 82-20 as Victoria's head coach. "I don't want to overdramatize it, but it was kind of an end of an era a little bit."
The brothers of Ottleys, Roths, Kuhns, Klaus and Dreilings (the last one, Dalton, was an all-state player last year) have formed the backbone for Victoria football.
The Knights went 10-1 last season and carry a current streak of 12 straight postseason appearances, longest in eight-man football, into the 2014 season.
"We have been very blessed to have some great tandems, and along the same lines, great families that they came from," Oberle said. "The tradition is easily passed down at that point. They work hard, they know what their brothers went through. I definitely think that that's an asset that helps us, and helps out Victoria football."
On Saturday, Trenton Klaus and Nathan Kuhn will represent Victoria and the brothers for the final time in the annual East vs. West Eight-Man Division II all-star game in Beloit. Kickoff is 1:30 p.m. from Trojan Field. The Eight-Man Division I contest is set for 10 a.m.
"It's an honor, because this tradition has been going on ever since Victoria football started," Kuhn said. "We have just been a team that creates good people. I will be the first one to admit, I was not the most athletic, but Coach O, he made us work."
Klaus said he was "pretty surprised" he was picked for the game.
"I didn't think they would pick two linemen from Victoria, honestly," Klaus said. "I figured they would pick another position."
Blake and Trenton Klaus, headed to Colby Community College for beef management, are completely different. Blake, a former all-state player who participated in all-star games, is more talkative and around five inches taller than his younger brother.
"That was kind of my goal," Trenton said. "He kind of set the goal for me. It's pretty cool. We always looked up to our older brothers."
Trenton played guard and defensive line and won a state powerlifiting title this spring. Blake played tailback.
"You could definitely qualify him as kind of a blue-collar guy," Oberle said. "Consistent. I think in his four years, he got a lot better with technique, got a lot better with understanding what we are doing up front offensively. Hard work pays off -- and Trenton works hard, very hard."
Nathan and Dylan Kuhn, though, are about the same. Nathan, going to NCKTC in Beloit for welding this fall, will stay in the exact same residence halls he is in this week. Nathan has watched Dylan ever since federated football in the youth ranks.
Nathan saw his brother play center and said that was the position he wanted to play, too. Not only did Dylan Kuhn play center, but the Kuhn's cousin, Kelton Unrein, was a starter on the lines for the Knights. Kuhn started every game as a sophomore on offense until he suffered an injury Week 6 against Almena-Northern Valley, and started every game junior and senior years on both sides.
"We are exactly alike pretty much," Nathan said of his brother. "There's times that I look at pictures of us, and it's like, 'Holy cow, we look exactly alike.' We act alike, we do the exact same stuff. We love hunting, fishing, everything is the same pretty much. It's freaky."