• AGE: 18
• CLASS: Senior
• POSITION: Quarterback, running back, linebacker
• HEIGHT: 6-foot-0
• WEIGHT: 182
• NOTABLE: Kirkwood missed his entire sophomore year after suffering a broken vertebrae in his neck in the final game of his freshman season
Unfortunately for the Tonawanda Warriors, Rob Kirkwood can only play one position at a time.
“If he could play both quarterback and running back at the same time, that would be great,” Tonawanda coach Chuck Tilley said of Kirkwood. “Rob’s our best thrower, our best runner and our best receiver.”
Kirkwood started the season at quarterback, switched to wing back, and then moved back under center, where he’s likely to be Friday at the annual T-NT game. The position swapping doesn’t stop on defense, either, as Kirkwood has played inside linebacker, outside linebacker and is expected to line up at free safety against the Lumberjacks.
“We’re trying to put him in a position where he can’t be blocked,” Tilley said. It’s tough on him. ... Rob’s greatest asset is he’s very aggressive. But sometimes that can be his greatest downfall. There were times when he was at outside linebacker that he’d be caught out of position because he would chase a play all the way across the field.”
Although his job changes almost weekly, Kirkwood said his approach remains the same.
“It actually makes you concentrate more on what you have to do,” Kirkwood said.
Though his senior season hasn’t gone the way Kirkwood would have hoped in terms of wins, he’s maintained a positive attitude, according to Tilley.
“Rob has developed some leadership abilities. He’s gotten better and better as the season has gone on,” the coach said.
Kirkwood said he actually enjoys playing multiple spots on the field.
“I’ve had fun playing quarterback, I’ve had fun playing running back ... basically wherever the coaches need me, I’ll play,” he said.
That Kirkwood is even on the field is a great story. As a freshman, he collided with former teammate Troy Smith while trying to break up a pass on the last play of the 2004 T-NT junior varsity game. The collision left Kirkwood with a broken vertebrae in his neck, endangering his football career.
He missed his entire sophomore season, but was able to play last year, when he established himself as an offensive threat. After normal kicker Mike Carson was injured last season, Kirkwood also took over those duties. In the 2006 T-NT game, Kirkwood missed a field goal that could have given Tonawanda the lead late in the fourth quarter.
Thus, perhaps more than any other member of the Warriors, Kirkwood hopes for a different outcome Friday. A win against NT would complete his season, he said.
“I’d feel good going out with a win over NT,” he said.
Contact editor Jay Skurski at 693-1000, ext. 117.