Sixteen-year-old Clayton Kilgore wakes up each morning this summer knowing he is blessed. There are not many kids his age who get to play football in the morning and then drive a race car in the evening.
Kilgore, a student at Deer Creek School, has a passion and an enthusiasm for both sports. Right now he says he is having too much fun to pick between the two.
“Both sports are so much fun. My life is fun, and I wouldn’t want to live any other way,” he said.
Kilgore doesn’t only play both sports, he excels at them.
Deer Creek football coach Benny McLendon says Kilgore will be an integral part of his team when the season starts on Aug. 20. At 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds, Kilgore is a versatile player who is expected to see action all over the field, especially at tight end and running back.
“He is going to be one of our leaders,” Coach McLendon said. “He is a good player, but he is an even better kid. He always says ‘yes sir, and no sir.’ And he does everything you ask him to do.”
McLendon’s Warriors are only expected to have two seniors on there team this season, and they are also expected to have three of four freshman playing major varsity minutes. Kilgore said all this youth means that players like him are expected to lead by example.
“I know we are young, but I feel like we have a good shot at maybe a district title this years,” he said. “We have the players needed to be good, but it is just going to depend on how hard we work at it.”
A hard work ethic is something Kilgore had instilled in him at a young age.
Kilgore is the son of Charity and Carl Kilgore who manage the Greenville Speedway. When he is not practicing football are working on his own car, Clayton, along with his older brother Carl, spend the rest of his time helping his parents run the track.
“I am always out there, either cutting the grass, or stocking coolers. I basically do anything my dad asks me to do. I even rode the tractor around the race track,” he said.
All the hard is work pays off when the weekend arrives.
“It is always fun at the track,” he said. “Everybody is always there. You get to have fun with all your friends. Even if you have a bad night everybody will cheer you up at the end of the night, and you will just go back out it the next week.”
Racing a car and playing a football do have a lot in common, according to young Kilgore.
“Both sports are mostly mental,” he said. “You have to have the right head when you drive your race car, and you have to have the right head when you play football. If you make mistakes, you are not going to do good in either of them. You just have to have a strong head.”