While he was small in stature, he was huge in heart. I watched him make plays a little guy should never make. He got knocked down over and over, and every time that happened, he would jump right back up ready for the next play. I watched him later in the season when the Cougars made the short trip over to Ira to take on the Bulldogs. And there #1 was… still playing with very well-developed fundamentals and that great big heart. I immediately knew I had to find out his story.
Kylar Pepper. The little Cougar with the big heart. I like to call him Mighty Mouse. I thought it appropriate he wore #1 on his Cougar jersey proudly. He is switching to lucky #7 this year. Kylar is a typical teenager in that he loves chocolate, especially Milk Duds, really enjoys learning about history in class at Klondike High School and listens to country music. He lives on a farm ten miles from the school and works the land with his dad. Much like other 1A kids, he participates in multiple sports. While his favorite sport is football, he also plays basketball and runs track. Kylar believes that running track is essential to doing well on the football field. He quoted his coach saying, “Run the ring in the spring to move the ball in the fall.” Great advice!
Being small in size may seem an obstacle to most football players, but Kylar doesn’t let it affect him. He admits he sometimes gets discouraged but immediately pushes that to the back of his mind and remains tough. Last year against Balmorhea he says with certainty about playing the Bears, “That was intimidating. I got barreled over a couple of times, but I just tried to get back up and be tough.” Kylar admits it’s sometimes very intimidating to go out there at his size, but he just has to get back up, be tough, and keep going.
There are many teams with smaller kids who have lots of heart. Kelan Evans from Santa Anna and Caleb Chisum from Jayton, just to name a few. I asked Kylar if he had any advice for other 1A kids who may not be the biggest guy on the field. He had wise words. “Don’t be intimidated by anyone. No matter what size they are, go out there and give 100% every day. Just stick it out. Don’t worry about your size. Don’t worry about your weight. Just stick it out, and you’ll be alright! You’ll be good!”
Coach Degraffenreid had great things to say about Kylar, “He’s an exciting kid to watch.” Sometimes the smallest guy on the field has to learn the fundamentals of the game and make them evident in every move just to see some playing time. Coach “D” says Kylar works hard and has earned every second he gets on the playing field. He added, “Kylar is a great kid!”
Kylar may be viewed as the underdog, but he doesn’t want to be seen that way. In many ways, Sixman football is the same. The underdog to big schools. The underdog to 11-man football. We are the little guy. But more importantly, we are the little guy with the great big heart who pushes discouragement out of the way and forges on tirelessly. We love our players. And they come in all shapes and sizes. Our towns may be small, but we are family. Small towns provide a simpler life, and we enjoy every second of it. We do more than exist. We embody the fight within the human spirit. So many 1A kids like Klondike Cougar #1 represent our towns with pride and the “never give up” attitude.
Thank you, Kylar Pepper, for being an inspiration. You are an example for us all. Never change that about yourself, and never, ever lose that heart! You, sir, encourage me to go forward and do Good!