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SPORTS

The Appalachian

| TheAppalachianOnline.com

January 24, 2013 |

Kilgore

you didn’t always say ‘I want to play in a national championship for Appalachian State.’ As a kid you’re like ‘I want to play in the Super Bowl, I’ve always dreamed about playing in a Super Bowl.’ Playing in a national championship was awesome, don’t get me wrong, it was an unbelievable experience, but actually playing in a Super Bowl... it’s unbelievable, and knowing that we’re going to go down there and take care of business.”

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TA: What was your most memorable experience at Appalachian? DK: “Definitely the 2007 season. Just starting out the season beating Michigan. That whole season was pretty awesome and memorable.” TA: How does collegiate football compare to the NFL?

TA: Almost like déjà vu, in the championship game in 2007, you played against the University of Delaware where Joe Flacco happened to be quarterback. Does that help your team’s preparation at all or is it already in the mix?

DK: “Definitely the speed and size of the players are different. There are a lot of players that don’t realize the amount of information that they give you and being able to retain all the information. It’s a lot of work that goes into a game plan for each and every week. This is game 23 for us, counting preseason and all of postseason, so it’s a long season. So I think the mental toughness is the biggest difference from college to the NFL.”

your preparation for the Super Bowl at all?

DK: “[Flacco’s] a much different player from where he was. He’s a great quarterback and he was a great quarterback in college. And when he was in Delaware we had a great defense, we got out and pressured him all night, intercepted a couple of his balls, and now he’s got to deal with the same thing. We have an outstanding defense and our defensive line is unbelievable. Against the run, they do a great job getting pressure from the linebackers and then you won’t find a better secondary in the NFL. Not much has changed as far as him being in a pressure game versus great defenses.”

DK: “There’s no comparison. You’re playing in the game that is the most watched game in the world. You’re probably in the game that every kid and coach has always dreamed of playing in. There’s no way you can compare it. Growing up

DK: “The first time I ever came to Boone, the team was practicing and I was in high school and it was freezing cold

TA: How did your time at Appalachian prepare you for the NFL? DK: “I never really had [anyone who] pushed me to say ‘hey you have a real opportunity to play in the NFL’ up until my last season. If I had known the whole time I was going to go into the NFL, like a lot of people do, I think I would have done a few things differently. The biggest things are how to take care of what things need to get done, the amount of time that goes into winning football games and actually handling pressure and being on the big stage. It prepares you to go out there and win big pressure games, you

File Photo | The Appalachian

Offensive lineman Daniel Kilgore, right, (63) covers for quarterback Armanti Edwards in a 2009 game against Georgia Southern.

always have those big games and Appalachian was always in the playoffs. That mentally prepared me to be able to handle bigger games.” TA: You’ve played on the big stage before in the NCAA National Championship game in 2007, does that effect

TA: What was your fondest memory of the former head coach Jerry Moore and staff?

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outside. Coach Moore greeted me when I got to Boone and I sat there in the freezing cold while they practiced. Then a couple weeks later I go back to visit, for an official visit, and sat down and had a great talk with them and they offered me a full scholarship. Sitting there that night with coach Moore and talking with him and my mother was there and giving him my commitment to Appalachian State saying, ‘I want to come play for you.’ I’m so thankful for what he did for me and my family in giving me a scholarship. Coach Moore and I have talked numerous times. For what he’s done for that program and for what he did for that community and the men and women who had any part with that program or with that school, it’s unbelievable and we’re forever in debt for what he’s done for that school.”

TA: What would your advice be for any Appalachian student-athlete who wants to go pro or simply has the aspiration to do so?

DK: “Don’t ever take your days at Appalachian for granted. You’re always going to face adversity in your training, in your games and in your career, but always just keep pushing. That’s the biggest thing for me. I was never a three or four time all-American from Appalachian, I didn’t win a Jacobs Blocking Trophy at App, I was always the one who overworked and, to me, through my career I went through so much and, before my senior year [we] went through the coaching change on the offensive line. You just got to keep working and push through everything and everything will play out in the end.”

BASKETBALL

Return of starting point guard gives Appalachian a winning surge by JAMES ASHLEY Sports Reporter

Appalachian State men’s basketball team has won seven of their last nine games, largely due to the return of sophomore point guard Mike Neal. Before Neal’s return, the Mountaineers were on a seven-game losing streak. His first game back was against The University of Missouri at Kansas City Dec. 16 where he played 31 minutes, had four assists and scored four points to help the Mountaineers. Neal said it’s a dream come true that he was able to play again. “It‘s like getting your dream taken away,” Neal said. “Being able to get back on the team and help the guys win feels real good.” Neal was ruled academically ineligible and could not participate in the first eight games

of the season. Neal was able to practice with the team, but when they traveled, he said he was in the gym working out or lifting, trying to get better and preparing for his return. Freshman point guard Chris Burgess took over for Neal while he was ineligible. Since Neal returned to the starting rotation, he has averaged 10.1 points, four assists and three turnovers a game, according to goasu.com. “Ever since I came back, everyone gets to play his natural position,” Neal said. “Everyone gained confidence because they are playing where they normally play. It’s a huge push.” Head coach Jason Capel said that Neal is a very talented player and brings many elements to the team. “Mike gives us some experience when he plays,” Capel said. “He

brings confidence to the team and when he’s playing his best, he’s one of the top point guards in the league.” The Mountaineers were at the top of the Southern Conference standings before taking two losses this past weekend to Chattanooga and Samford. The loss to Chattanooga was a close one that ended in overtime 91-88. Senior captain Nathan Healy had a double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds, according to goasu.com. Healy explained that the game of basketball is guard-dominated, and Neal should be at the top of the list when talking about talent level. “Mike is the most talented player on the team,” Healy said. “There is a range of things he can do. It’s hard to put my hand on just one thing. He’s great at getting people organized

and is a great on-ball defender.” The team added depth to the roster with Neal’s return and he said that he has the role of keeping the team organized and getting them back in the winning spirit after the losses this weekend. “Last year, we would lose three games straight and just kept going down,” Neal said. “This year, every guy wants to win as much as the other and everyone know their role. I’m like the quarterback of the team, showing guys where to go and encouraging them to keep up their top level of play.” The Mountaineers play back-to-back home games this week, starting with Georgia Southern on Thursday and a rivalry game against Davidson on Saturday. Tip off against Georgia Southern is scheduled for 7 p.m.

TENNIS

Appalachian tennis opens season with mixed results by JORDAN DAVIS Sports Reporter

Appalachian State men and women’s tennis teams hit the courts this weekend to open up the season, each with a pair of road matches against quality opponents. The lone victory for either squad came on Friday when the women’s tennis team shut out North Carolina A&T 7-0. The Mountaineers took control early and did not look back, winning both doubles matches and dropping only one set the entire match, according to goasu.com. The following day on a quick turnaround the Mountaineers nearly knocked off East Carolina University, but came up just short falling 3-4. The women’s team split the singles matches 3-3 thanks to wins from Ellie Linsell, Claire Cox and Jessica Thaggard but couldn’t earn the Paul Heckert | The Appalachian crucial doubles point that Senior Gabriela Celi returns the ball across the net in a game last turned out to be the defall against Western Carolina University. ciding factor, according to

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Justin Perry | The Appalachian

Sophomore Mike Neal moves the ball down the court in the Sunday, Jan. 14 game against UNC-G. Neal was ruled academically ineligible and could not participate in the first eight games of the season, but with his return they broke their seven game losing streak.

goasu.com. The men’s team suffered two tough shutouts over the break to the hands of some of the nation’s top tennis programs. First a 0-5 loss at No. 39 South Carolina on Jan. 19, followed by a 0-9 loss at No. 42 UNC-Wilmington. The Mountaineers failed to win a set in either of the two matches, but head coach Bob Lake said the play was better than what the scores would indicate, and that the team needs to play more consistently. “These larger schools will schedule us because they know we can give a good fight,” Lake said. “But, we know why we’re here. We would love to win, but we are here to get better.” The men will look to have more success this Saturday in their home opener against Presbyterian College while the women have another weekend of travel ahead of them with three matches in two days in White Sulphur Springs, W.V.

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Upcoming Sports Events Jan. 24 Men’s Basketball -Georgia Southern* -in Boone, N.C. -7 p.m. Jan. 25-26 Women’s Track & Field -Kentucky Invitational -Indoor Season -at Lexington, Ky. -7 a.m. Men’s Track & Field -Kentucky Invitational -Indoor Season -at Lexington, Ky. -7 a.m. Jan. 26 Wrestling -Appalachian Open -in Boone, N.C. -All Day *Conference game

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Thursday, January 24  

Check out the Thursday, January 24 edition of The Appalachian

Thursday, January 24  

Check out the Thursday, January 24 edition of The Appalachian

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