If the Wittenberg Tigers talk about having a brotherhood, they are literally talking about their siblings.
There are two Duncans, two Kaysers and two Crowes. Noah Dehnke is the brother of former Tigers Max and Jimmy.
Then there is the Wilson family of Eaton. Zac was a senior wide receiver when Keenan was a freshman. Keenan is a senior safety this season, and the youngest brother, Ghye, is a freshman wide receiver.
Wittenberg’s winning tradition attracted the brothers to the program, and they have played a big part in upholding that tradition.
“It all started with my older brother Zac coming here,” Keenan said Tuesday. “I started coming to all the games to watch him. Everyone wants to go to a school where you win. I really started noticing the coaching staff. They really care about you. They want to win as much as you do. You don’t see that at a lot of places really.”
The oldest Wilson, Zac, played wide receiver and had his best season as a junior in 2013, catching 37 passes for 571 yards and three touchdowns. Keenan saw his brother’s success and followed him to Wittenberg. He picked Wittenberg over Denison.
“Him being here was definitely a big influence for me,” Keenan said. “I knew going into the offseason I would be able to work out with him and better myself.”
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Wittenberg listed Keenan as a wide receiver when he arrived on campus in 2014. He told wide receivers coach Michael Cooper he wanted to switch to defensive back because that’s what he trained for all summer.
Keenan’s teammates told him, “You just want to go against your brother in practice.”
That would have happened more, but Zac broke his collarbone in preseason practices and played in only two games as a senior.
Keenan hasn’t suffered that misfortune in his final season. He ranks third on the team and leads the defensive backs with 51 tackles. He has two interceptions.
“Keenan’s been dynamite,” Wittenberg coach Joe Fincham said. “Much like his brother, he’s a guy with a tremendous work ethic. He has a very high football IQ. He’s a man of few words, at least around me, but he’s as dependable as the day is long. He gets everybody lined up. He knows where he’s supposed to be.”
No. 12 Wittenberg (9-0, 8-0) clinched a share of the North Coast Athletic Conference championship Saturday by beating Ohio Wesleyan 42-23. The Tigers can win the title outright and secure their first 10-0 season since 2010 by beating Wooster at 1 p.m. Saturday.
“We know what’s on the line,” Wilson said. “A home playoff game would be big. In my career, we’ve only lost two games at home. Every week we have different motivations. This week, obviously, it’s 10-0.”