East Feliciana inside linebacker Tyquincey Kilbourne understood the gravity of the situation and wanted to be proactive.
The Tigers were losing one of the true pillars of the program — LSU signee Kendell Beckwith — and life as Kilbourne knew it before was about to change.
No longer would East Feliciana rely on the game-changing ability of Beckwith, nor his guidance, which created quite a void Kilbourne said he felt compelled to fill.
“I put the weight on myself,” Kilbourne said. “Coach (Cedric Anderson) didn’t have to do it. I took it as I was the two-year guy that’s coming in and had been starting. I took the leadership role and tried to make the defense as good as we could, call the plays and make sure everyone was in the right position.”
Like Beckwith before him, the 6-foot-1, 230-pound Kilbourne moves into his senior season as a rare four-year starter and unquestioned leader of a defense that figures to play a significant part in East Feliciana’s 2014 season.
Moreover, Kilbourne wants to have the same positive influence and pass on some of the subtleties of the game the way Wando Stampley and Beckwith did for him.
“My goal is to be a positive impact on the younger guys,” he said. “I think my play speaks for itself. I want to be a role model and show them how to do it by working hard in school and getting your grades and coming out to practice and going hard. The harder you practice, usually it comes on Friday nights.”
Four years ago there were never any promises from East Feliciana football coach Cedric Anderson about starting, much less an abundance of playing time, when Kilbourne showed up for summer workouts.
Anderson saw some of the physical attributes — Kilbourne was 6-foot-1 — but later he picked up some of the intangibles such as his intelligence for the game and dedication to improving daily.
Anderson started Kilbourne at inside linebacker with Stampley at another linebacker and Beckwith at defensive end until a concussion sidelined Kilbourne for the next game and a half. He returned in the second half of Week 3 and has gone on to start in the Tigers last 30 straight games.
“He came in with the mindset he was going to start his freshman year,” Anderson said. “He had good size and his football IQ was real high. He was real confident in what he was doin,g and he got to the ball real well.”
Anderson said Kilbourne earned first team All-District 6-2A honors in 2012 and was second team a year ago when East Feliciana wound up with a 6-5 record after a first-round playoff exit against Oak Grove.
The catalyst for a potential deep run in the playoffs — the Tigers have been to the semifinals twice under Anderson — should be the defense where Kilbourne is one of six returning starters and eager to set the tone.
Because of his extensive work in the film room, Kilbourne said he believes he’s almost one step ahead of the opposition and it’s his responsibility to translate Anderson’s signals and align the front, linebackers and secondary on each play.
“It takes watching the opponents’ film,” Kilbourne said. “You have to get used to seeing what the running backs and the offensive line are doing. Just pick up traits from the offense and coach Anderson gives us our assignments and I’m the guy that takes the signs and gets us all together.”