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No picking sides
PSU’s No. 2 QB finally faces his brother on the field
Oregon State football game days are always a major event for the Kavanaughs.
None more so than Sept. 5, when OSU plays host to Portland State in the opener for both teams at Reser Stadium.
Dan and Jenifer Kavanaugh are Oregon State graduates and season ticket-holders who have enjoyed watching son Taylor Kavanaugh play for the Beavers the past three seasons.
There will be divided loyalty, however, on Sept. 5. The Kavanaughs’ other son, Connor, is the No. 2 quarterback for Portland State.
“Excited? The skin’s about ready to come off,” Dan Kavanaugh says. “We have a huge group of family who will be at the game, and some special T-shirts we made for the day — colored orange and green.
“I’m definitely neutral, but I don’t know how ‘neutral’ works. I guess we can’t be disappointed either way.”
The Kavanaugh boys — 18 months apart — have never played against each other on the gridiron.
“It’s going to seem a little weird,” concedes Taylor, a senior and special-teams stalwart. “We’re both so competitive, though. Once we get out there, that side of ourselves will kick in.”
“It’s going to be the greatest opportunity — playing against my brother, going against the team I’ve rooted for my whole life, playing in front of 45,000 in the stadium (in which) I grew up watching football,” says Connor, a sophomore. “It’s kind of a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
Like his older brother, Connor was born and bred a Beaver fan.
“I think I had an orange and black hat on my head from the day I was born,” Connor says.
After leading Lincoln to the Class 4A championship game in 2005, Connor was offered the opportunity to walk on at Oregon State. By that time, older brother Taylor was already a walk-on member of the OSU program.
“Connor was one of the most productive and winning quarterbacks in the state that year,” Oregon State coach Mike Riley says. “He took that Lincoln program and put it on the map.
“When we offered Connor a chance to join our program, we had the benefit of knowing what his brother is about. They’re off the same tree — those Kavanaughs are such good people. You could tell Connor is a great competitor and, like his brother, would be a fabulous team guy.”
But Connor’s allegiances shifted instantly when he signed to play at Portland State.
Oregon State “gave me the opportunity to walk on, but I thought I’d have a lot better chance to play here,” Connor says. “And there’s no question, Portland State is where I want to be. I made the greatest decision I could have made.”
“Coming out of high school, we were hoping Connor would wind up at Oregon State,” Dan Kavanaugh says. “But we couldn’t be more pleased with the time Connor has had at Portland State. It’s been unreal.”
The 6-0, 180-pound left-hander with the nimble feet redshirted in 2007 and played sparingly as a redshirt freshman last season. With the season-ending injury to Tygue Howland, Kavanaugh has moved up to the No. 2 QB spot behind starter Drew Hubel.
It would stand to reason that Portland State will put in a special package to utilize the mobility of Kavanaugh against Oregon State.
“I sure hope so,” he says. “I know my arm is twice as strong as it was a year ago, and I’m twice as confident.”
A ‘pride thing’
After a fine career as a two-way standout at Lincoln, Taylor Kavanaugh worked his way into duty as holder for place-kicks and has also seen duty as a punt returner at Oregon State the past three seasons. With one career reception, he is listed third string at flanker.
For the past three years, the 5-10, 175-pound Kavanaugh has earned the program’s “lunch bucket award,” voted on by teammates for work ethic.
“Taylor has been one of the most-respected guys in our program for a long time,” Riley says. “We know he is going to be involved in punt returns and as a holder this year. We’re lucky to have him.”
On Saturday, Riley delivered some welcome news to Kavanaugh. A scholarship is being extended for fall term.
“It’s a huge honor,” Kavanaugh says. “I couldn’t be more appreciative.”
The Kavanaughs, who own season tickets for both programs, have the schedules on an Excel spread sheet, colored in green or orange. They’ll be able to attend all but one home game for both teams this season.
The final week of July, the Kavanaugh family — including Katie, a freshman-to-be at Oregon State, and Kimmy, a sophomore at Lincoln in the fall — took their annual motor-home trip, this time to the Wallowas for a week.
“We’ve being doing it since Taylor was 3 and Connor was 2,” Jenifer Kavanaugh says. “It’s in our blood. It warms my heart that the kids so look forward to it, to us all being together. We had campfires, the boys played their guitars, and we just relaxed and reminisced.”
“It was a great way for Connor and me to relax and recharge our engines,” says Taylor, who graduated last spring and will begin work toward a masters in the fall. “Taylor and I threw the ball around and got ready for camp.”
The subject of a game on Sept. 5 did come up.
“Taylor threw in a few jabs about how they’re going to kick our butts, but I don’t back down,” Connor says. “I think we have some special things to show.”
There will be no bets on the outcome, Taylor says.
“Nothing monetary needs to be involved,” he says. “This is purely a pride thing. It’s a million dollars worth of pride.”
By Kerry Eggers