Kugler clan has Super season
It was a thrill for Rob and Patrick Kugler to win a PIAA football title in their first season with North Allegheny. And it was made even better because their father, Sean, the Steelers' first-year offensive line coach, was there for every game.
Now, the whole Kugler clan is taking the ultimate road trip to Dallas for Super Bowl XLV.
"We've never gone to an away game in our life," said Patrick, a sophomore right tackle, "so it's going to be great to be at the new Cowboys Stadium."
The trek to Texas is just another part of what has been an outstanding football season for the Kuglers. Rob, a senior tight end/defensive end, and Patrick were key pieces in North Allegheny's 15-1 season, which yielded the second WPIAL and PIAA championships in school history. It was the second state title in as many seasons for the brothers, who started for Orchard Park when it won the New York Class AA state title in 2009, when their father was with the Buffalo Bills.
As exciting as high school success is for the Kuglers, it doesn't compare to the Super Bowl.
"Coming off of that state championship win was great," said Rob, a Purdue recruit. "But this is something my dad has been building to his whole career."
Before landing in Pittsburgh, Kugler made NFL stops in Buffalo and Detroit — franchises that haven't sniffed the playoffs in years. This season posed challenges, too: Major injuries to starters Max Starks, Willie Colon and now Maurkice Pouncey have been among the biggest issues the Steelers have faced.
Still, the line has held long enough to get the Steelers to the cusp of their seventh Super Bowl title.
"He's a little stressed," Rob said, "but he's excited, too."
Kugler relieved some of that by taking in his sons' championship season. He even was present for North Allegheny's WPIAL and PIAA championship games — both played the night before Steelers games.
For the WPIAL final, Kugler was given permission to stay behind while the Steelers traveled to Buffalo. He drove up immediately after North Allegheny's 21-14 victory over Woodland Hills.
After the Tigers' 21-0 win over La Salle College on Dec. 18 in the state final, he made the late-night drive from Hershey to Pittsburgh — but not before imparting some words of wisdom.
"He was really proud of us," Patrick said, "And he said it's one of the greatest feelings you'll get, but you can always win more. I've got a chance to win two more state titles, and my brother can win a Big Ten championship."
And for the first time in the pros, their father has a shot at a title, too.