Hunter Killough was in the right place to make one of the biggest plays in Bayfield High School football history Friday night, as his game-clinching interception on the 1-yard line sent the Wolverines to their first-ever win against the varsity football team of Durango.
The 20-13 win may not have been possible without the fiery senior. He delivered key yards offensively in the run game, constantly met Durango star Gavin Mestas in the open field and was the hero of the game with his interception to end a promising Durango drive in the final seconds of the game.
“Right now, I’m on cloud nine still,” Killough said the day after solidifying the Wolverines’ first win against the Demons dating back to 1924.
Killough had a lot to prove Friday night. He filled the shoes of injured star junior running back David Hawkins in the backfield and was tasked with playing nearly every snap on both sides of the ball. Killough also played a big role in fueling the rivalry between the two teams since Durango’s 14-6 overtime win in 2016. He blew kisses to the Demons’ players during a junior varsity game earlier this year and was active on social media leading up to the game. He was one player Durango didn’t want to beat them, and he did.
“After middle school, no one ever thought we’d play Durango again. We kind of forgot about them,” Killough said. “Then last year came up, and it was a big deal but also the first time we had played them in forever. We took it as if we were playing any other team. Then when we lost to them, this year it became personal. It became a game we wanted to win, had to win. I get fired up pretty easy, and I tried to keep my cool, but stewing on a loss gets me fired up. When we were constantly reminded about it, it didn’t sit right. There was definitely more fire under me than would’ve been if it was just another game.”
Killough, son of Kevin and Lana Killough, has brought that fire to the football field since he was in fourth grade, and his passion for the game came from watching NFL on Sundays with his family after church. When his older brother, Kyle, got involved in the sport, Hunter would watch practice and then join the players on the field after practices to get his turn to touch the ball.
Kyle was a key member of the 2015 state championship team for Bayfield. He was a force as a linebacker and delivered powerful pregame speeches to the team. Kyle visited the Wolverines on Friday and delivered another one of his speeches before the team hit the field, and Hunter delivered his own shortly before kickoff.
“He has a huge passion for the game that is unmatched,” Hunter said of his brother. “He doesn’t really get overwhelming and loud, but you can tell he means what he says when he’s talking to the team. He’s a big leader, whether its football or life.
“When he gave his speech, I looked around the locker room and could tell he had the attention and respect of the guys, and I kind of used Kyle as a backboard for my speech.”
When Killough enters Wolverine Country Stadium, he is usually one of the last players on the field. He isn’t late coming out of the locker room, though. There is a method to his entrance.
“That’s something Dave Hawkins and I do,” he said. “We feel like being behind the guys. We want leaders in the front and the back, so we come up from behind. It’s an incredible sight when you’re running on the field and see your whole team in front of you. Touch the gold rock, look around at the crowd and see the purple and gold jerseys, it’s a spectacular sight.”
Killough takes in all the sights at BHS. He is a key member of the Rowdy Crowd student section who helps organize cheers during basketball and volleyball games. When games get real close or serious, he’s known to get his football helmet out of his locker and will wear it courtside in an attempt to fire up the home crowd and intimidate opponents.
“We’re a small-town community, and being at every sporting event is a pretty big deal,” he said. “Having the Rowdy Crowd be part of the game and having all the fans get into it kind of brings the community together.”
This summer, Killough also bought a pop-up camper and parked it outside the high school before the first day of school. Whatever venture Killough gets into, he goes after it 100 percent. He provides a lot of character to the Wolverines, and Friday night he delivered a moment fans will be congratulating him for the rest of his life.