Knoch senior lineman follows in father's footsteps
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Primed to begin his 16th season as Knoch's football coach, Mike King inevitably has developed constants over the years — from stable assistants to training camp schedules to game-day routines.
But one person who has shadowed him just about every step of the way is his son, Kraig. Now a senior, the younger King has been hanging around Knoch football since age 5.
Once a task-oriented youngster and dad's side-car, the younger King served as a water boy, ball boy and equipment manager. But now all grown up, he is ready to make his mark as a starting offensive tackle and nose guard.
“I would go in with my dad every morning and hang out; I'd fill water bottles and help the trainers out,” Kraig said. “I would lay out game jerseys on Thursdays. I always thought about the time when I would get to play.”
His father remembers after-school “playtime” being spent on the football field.
“He was driving golf carts around and had keys to the coaches' office,” coach King said. “He was running (game) balls on Friday nights.
“He would sleep on my lap on the way home from games. Then, he found out it was more fun in the back with the players.”
One of just three returning starters — joining another lineman, Division I prospect Connor Shinsky, and wide receiver/defensive back Adam Albert — King assured that he has found his way unassisted.
“Some people look at me and say, ‘Oh, you're the coach's son and you're on the team because of your dad,' ” he said. “I feel I have to step up to a different level and prove that I am here on my own.”
Tossed into the starting lineup at center last season in Week 5 at Hampton, King (5-foot-11, 230 pounds) played well and remained an impact player through the end of the season as the Knights went 7-3 and made the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs.
“I don't even remember that day in school,” he said of the Hampton game. “I was so focused on that game because I knew I was starting. I didn't want anything bad to happen.”
Kraig didn't begin playing football until the seventh grade. It was then he began to hone his talent as a long-snapper.
The Kings lean on a family tree rooted in football. Mike, who played at Knoch in the late 1970s/early 1980s, also served as a student manager for his father, Bob, Knoch's coach from 1969-75.
“I did that for a couple of years,” King said. “I goofed around with the tackling dummies. I remember it being a lot of fun.”
When he was a fifth-grader, he idolized some of Knoch's stars and drew pictures of them. His homemade posters were thumb-tacked to the wall in the trainer's room. One was of former running back Tim McNerney, the Washington & Jefferson player who was robbed and killed last fall in Washington County.
“I looked up to those guys,” Kraig said. “I wanted to be one of them. I always focused on the skill guys because that's what I wanted to be.”
Instead, though, King will follow in his father's footsteps and, perhaps as fate would have it, play on the line. Mike played on the right side of the offensive line; Kraig is on the left.
“But this will be the first year I'll ever have played on defense,” Kraig said. “I love it there.”
Of course, there will come a time next season when father and son are separated — assuming Kraig doesn't return to help coach right away.
That means this season's Senior Night at Knoch will be emotional for the pair as they step away from the game to honor Kraig's final year.
“I don't want to think about that; I can't even think about it,” Kraig said.
Neither can dad.
“Kraig has been my right-hand man since his mother first let him come to practice with me,” Mike said. “I don't know what I will do without him.”
Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. Reach him at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Ford City, Kittanning matchup to be part of SI.com’s ‘Underdogs’
- Birdie sad to see rivalry go
- WPIAL, coaches are still looking to schedule Week 9 rivalry games
- Daily News Q&A: Lamont Wade, Clairton
- Daily Courier Q&A: Connellsville’s Kevin Koontz
- West Mifflin hoping to spoil TJ’s perfect season
- Longtime rivals Kittanning, Ford City set for final act
- BVA hopes to keep momentum
- Heavyweights West Allegheny, Central Valley meet in test for Parkway
- Connellsville focuses on nailing down playoff berth
- Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Q&A: Montour’s David Haseleu