Kurkis bond over football
Father, sons enjoy championship
By Greg Seubert
Carter and Connor Kurki didn’t have to look far to tell their dad that their football team had just won a state championship.
He was right there with them.
The Kurkis are two big reasons why Iola-Scandinavia won its first state football championship with a 43-14 win over Racine Lutheran Nov. 15 in the WIAA Division 6 title game at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.
Their dad, Darin, is one of coach Scott Erickson’s assistant coaches, along with Jon Berg, Christian Erdmann, Jenner Gullixon, Paul Huettner, Todd Snyder, Pete Timdal, Tim Welch, Connor Drath and Alan Bauer.
“I’m still in shock until I actually sit down at home and think about it,” he said.
Connor, a junior quarterback and defensive back, had two touchdown passes, including a 29-yarder to his brother, and 49 rushing yards. Carter, a senior running back and linebacker, wrapped up his high school football career with 44 receiving yards, 44 rushing yards and five tackles.
“It’s great to be the quarterback of this team,” Connor said. “I love everybody here. They trust me and I trust all of them.”
“It feels quite electrifying, honestly,” Carter said minutes after Erickson and the team received their championship trophy. “It’s just an unbelievable feeling being down here at Camp Randall.”
It wasn’t the first trip to Camp Randall for the Kurkis. Both of them played in last year’s Division 6 championship game, a 35-12 loss to St. Mary’s Springs.
That loss helped motivate the team this year, according to Carter.
“We got down here and got close, but we didn’t finish it,” he said. “We really wanted it and we went out and got it today.”
“We wanted it more,” he said. “We’re sick of silver.”
“They knew it was theirs from day one,” Darin said. “They didn’t want to let anyone down on the team. They all put the work in. About a week after we lost the state game, they were speed training and lifting. They all had one goal in common: to win the state title.”
Darin jumped at the chance to help coach his sons’ high school football team.
“It’s a great opportunity to deal with them day in and day out at home and in the field,” he said. “It’s been football, football, football. I can’t say enough about the work ethic these two and the rest of the team put in. It’s just amazing.”
Besides helping out with the football team, Darin also coaches youth basketball in Iola.
“I spent more time with this senior group in basketball than football,” he said. “I coached them growing up.”
The Kurki brothers are also standouts in baseball and helped the Thunderbirds make it to state in 2017.
“They’re looking forward to it,” Darin said. “Basketball starts Monday, so they’ll change gears real quick.”
In the meantime, however, there’s plenty of time to reflect on the program’s first-ever undefeated season and state championship.
“It’s amazing, nothing better,” Connor said. “This is the best way to play the last game with him.”
“As a team, we’re a huge family already,” Carter said. “Having these two next to me is just an unbelievable feeling and I’m glad I got to spend it with them. I’ll cherish it forever.”