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Brentwood grad Kish, Akron set to play in Boca Raton Bowl

| Friday, Dec. 8, 2017, 11:00 p.m.
Brentwood graduate Michael Kish (11) is a redshirt freshman defensive end at Akron.
Submitted
Brentwood graduate Michael Kish (11) is a redshirt freshman defensive end at Akron.
Brentwood graduate Michael Kish (11) is a redshirt freshman defensive end at Akron.
Submitted
Brentwood graduate Michael Kish (11) is a redshirt freshman defensive end at Akron.

Brentwood graduate Michael Kish is bowl-bound.

Again.

The Akron football team is headed to its second postseason bowl game since 2015, as the Zips will meet Florida Atlantic on Dec. 19 in the Boca Raton Bowl in Boca Raton, Fla. The game will be televised on ESPN with a 7 p.m. kickoff.

Kish is a 6-foot-4, 240-pound redshirt senior defensive end at Akron, which clinched the East Division title in the Mid-American Conference with a 6-2 record this year.

West Division winner Toledo (11-2) defeated the Zips, 45-28, in the recent MAC championship game held at Ford Field in Detroit.

“Bowl games are a great experience,” Kish said. “It's a great opportunity to redeem ourselves from the MAC championship game and go out my senior year with a win. Also, it's Florida, so you can't really complain about that.”

Kish, who was redshirted as a freshman in 2013, is a two-year letterman at Akron. He made his collegiate debut against Kent State in his sophomore season.

The former two-sport standout at Brentwood played in 10 games at tight end last season, and also saw action on the field goal unit. He moved to the defensive end position during spring drills.

“It's definitely a learning experience,” said Kish about his college career at Akron. “You have to adjust to the speed of the game and the physicality that comes at the college level. It also teaches and prepares you for any adversity that will strike throughout the rest of your life.”

Kish, 22, graduated from Brentwood in 2013. He was a starter at tight end and defensive end with the Spartans, and also competed in basketball in high school.

His greatest memories from his high school career?

“Probably playing alongside my childhood friends,” he said, “and being able to play on both sides of the ball.”

Kish is considered one of the top athletes to play in the Brentwood football program in recent years.

“I have nothing but the highest praise for Michael Kish,” Brentwood coach Kevin Kissel said. “He was a very, very good player for us. He was kind of a low-key, quiet kid, and very respectful. He definitely was one of the better ballplayers for us every year.

“The thing about him, he always wanted to play tight end. His blocking was tremendous; he was a great blocker. And he was a very good defensive end. We always could see he had Division I potential. He changed his physique a little bit, and he's had a great career.”

During the 2017 regular season, Akron won four if its first five conference games, beating Bowling Green (34-23), Ball State (31-3), Western Michigan (14-13) and Buffalo (21-20), before ending its schedule with victories against Ohio (37-34) and Kent State (24-14).

The Zips, whose only conference losses were to Toledo and Miami (Ohio), also racked up a 52-3 nonconference victory against Arkansas Pine Bluff.

Akron opened the season with a shutout loss at Penn State, which provided a memorable experience for Kish despite the defeat.

“The weather was not the best for that game (it was rainy and cold), but it was still pretty cool to see and play in a stadium like that,” Kish said. “It was definitely the most I've played in front of. To be honest though, Wisconsin's atmosphere last year was better; but it also was in the 70s without a cloud in the sky.”

This year's bowl appearance will be Akron's third since moving to Division I-FBS play in 1987. The Zips' first bowl game was the 2005 Motor City Bowl in Detroit. In 2015, Akron won the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

Florida Atlantic (10-3), under first-year coach Lane Kiffin, will oppose the Zips (7-6) as the reigning Conference USA champion.

“We are excited to be playing Florida Atlantic,” Akron coach Terry Bowden said. “We're looking forward to it, and we're excited about the invitation. We have a lot of players from that area.”

Kish will graduate Dec. 16 with a 3.1 grade-point average and a degree in exercise science.

He will remain at Akron to complete an internship with the university's strength and conditioning staff.

“I plan on interning with my strength staff as a strength coach throughout the spring semester,” Kish said.

Ray Fisher is a freelance writer.

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