Shaler Area grad Kilgore makes quick transition to starter at Grove City
Don’t think, just be aggressive in pursuit of the football.
That’s what Grove City College coach Andrew DiDonato asked for Parker Kilgore entering his freshman season.
Kilgore, a freshman linebacker and Shaler Area graduate, was able to carry out these instructions. In nine games this season, Kilgore leads the team with three sacks, is third with 4.5 tackles for loss and ranks third with 53 tackles.
“Our strength as a defense is we pursue the ball really well,” Kilgore said. “If you get a lot of hats to the ball, it’s hard for opponents to break tackles.”
Most of the skills Kilgore has flashed during the season are what DiDonato saw signs of in high school.
“Playing assignment, alignment, read and technique. How quickly you get off the ball, going full speed and finishing,” DiDonato said. “Teaching young men how to do that every play. We are consistently executing our job and giving great effort. He continues to pick up on what other guys have built and joins them and does it effectively.”
Kilgore’s efforts have come during a major turnaround the Wolverines (6-3). Grove City, which played Thiel Saturday in a game after deadline for this edition, had won five straight and clinched its first winning season since 2012.
“I was expecting to play a role,” Kilgore said. “I didn’t know how to start right away. Expected to work into starting role and make an impact.”
Kilgore was one of the players brought in to help build a defense. Grove City lost a lot of players on that side of the ball to graduation last season.
“This season, we had a lot returning on offense,” DiDonato said. “A lot of our skill players were freshman and sophomores. We graduated our outside ‘backer, middle ‘backer and safety. We needed freshmen to come in and fill in for guys.”
During this season, Kilgore started at outside linebacker. He soon moved inside and found a home there. Playing on the inside was a more natural fit; Kilgore played middle linebacker played middle linebacker for three years at Shaler.
“Inside you have to read more,” Kilgore said. “Read the guards and deal with linemen more.”
DiDonato was pleased with how Kilgore was able to step in as a freshman.
He’s hoping Kilgore will build on that and become a leader for the program.
“There’s always a transition to playing college football, and he came in playing in at a high level,” DiDonato said. “He wasn’t thinking too much. Parker has the mental capacity to understand the scheme and adjusting to college football.”
Josh Rizzo is a freelance writer.