Growing up in a football household has its advantages. Just ask University Lab School senior quarterback Nik Kragthorpe said.
“I love football and used to play tight end and linebacker,” Kragthorpe said. “I switched to quarterback in middle school, but I wasn’t necessarily groomed to play the position. My dad helps me with mechanical things and my progressions. He checks up on me, but he never criticizes me.”
The son of LSU quarterbacks coach Steve Kragthorpe and grandson of former Oregon State coach Dave Kragthorpe, Nik Kragthorpe’s steady play has helped the Cubs advance to the state semifinals for the first time in nearly 20 years. Winners of 11 straight games, third-seeded University (12-1) travels Friday to Shreveport to face second-seeded Evangel Christian (11-2) in a Class 2A semifinal.
The Kragthorpe family moved to Baton Rouge in 2011. Steve Kragthorpe, who spent seven years as head coach at Tulsa and Louisville, was hired as LSU’s offensive coordinator. On Aug. 4, 2011, Steve Kragthorpe stepped down as offensive coordinator because of Parkinson’s Disease but remained as LSU quarterbacks coach.
“It was a shock when we found out he had Parkinson’s,” Nik Kragthorpe said. “He deals with it real well. He does get fatigued.”
Steve Kragthorpe was a college quarterback and Nik is the youngest of three sons. Brad Kragthrope played quarterback for Holland Hall, a private prep school in Tulsa, and is currently at walk-on at LSU. Older brother Chris Kragthorpe played center at Wheaton College and is a graduate assistant coach at LSU.
“Being a son of a coach is a good advantage to have,” University coach Chad Mahaffey said. “Nik’s been around football all his life. Other than that, he’s a pretty normal kid.
“He’s done a lot better than you would expect for a first-year starter. His decision making is good, especially on reading the option play. Also, he’s a tough kid. He’s taken some big hits and keeps getting up.”
Kyle Crifasi was U-High’s starting quarterback in 2011 as they finished 12-1 and advanced to the quarterfinals. Nik Kragthrope was the backup and saw action in every game.
“We had a tough loss in the playoffs last year, and we really worked hard in the offseason,” Nik Kragthorpe said. “Our ultimate goal is winning the state championship. Evangel has a good defense with lots of speed. We feel like we have one of the best defenses in the state.”
Evangel has scored 35 or more points in 12 games this season, while University has achieved that feat 10 times.
Sophomore running back Nick Brossette leads the Cubs ground attack with 1,787 yards on 206 carries and 40 touchdowns.
Nik Kragthorpe has completed 125 of 187 passes for 1,665 yards with 17 touchdowns and three interceptions. He has rushed 67 times for 323 yards and six TDs. His favorite passing targets are Manny Miles, Zach Aguilar, Chris Moore and D’Vante Dotson. Manny Miles, a sophomore, is the son of LSU football coach Les Miles.
“I think I’ve gotten better as a QB as the season has progressed,” said Nik Kragthorpe. “Experience gets you better. The game has started to slow down for me. We have a lot of good receivers and are a pretty balanced offense.”
“The offensive line has done a good job of pass blocking,” Mahaffey said. “We haven’t given up many sacks. Nik kind of has a clock in his head and knows when to get rid of the ball.”
“We’re a fast-tempo offense, and I want to get the ball out of my hand as fast as possible,” Nik Kragthorpe said. “We’ve been really efficient and want to consistently move the chains.”
Like his dad, Nik Kragthorpe spends plenty time in the film room.
“I love to study film,” he said. “Football is like a chess match. Studying film helps you predict what the defense will do.”
Football is certainly “all in the family” for the Kragthorpes.