All-state lineman Brock Pittsley at heart of Killdeer’s successKILLDEER — Around 4 p.m. today, when Brock Pittsley runs onto the field during Killdeer’s starting lineups, he’ll point to the sky.
By: Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press
KILLDEER — Around 4 p.m. today, when Brock Pittsley runs onto the field during Killdeer’s starting lineups, he’ll point to the sky.
The 6-foot-1, 270-pound senior lineman will then say a prayer before he steps onto Fisher Field at the Biesiot Activities Center for his first play in today’s Class 1A first-round playoff game against Velva.
Those are Pittsley’s ways of giving a shout out to his biggest fan who can no longer watch him play.
David Pittsley, Brock’s father and the public address announcer for Killdeer football games, never got to see his son develop into one of the best linemen in North Dakota high school football. He died unexpectedly the winter of Brock’s sophomore year.
“It gives me a reason to play,” Pittsley said.
Described by his coaches and teammates as the Cowboys’ most tireless worker, Pittsley is a driven and knowledgeable player who pushes other teammates as hard as he pushes himself both on and off the field.
“He pushes himself really hard,” Killdeer head coach Lou Dobitz said. “He works hard in anything he can do and he’s probably got, in the back of his mind, his dad.”
Pittsley, a Class 1A all-state first team selection last season, is another in a long line of standout linemen Killdeer has produced over the years. He has been a mainstay at right guard and defensive tackle and has started since his freshman year.
This year, his defensive numbers aren’t even the best on his own team. But Dobitz said statistics aren’t always accurate depictions of a player’s performance.
Double and triple teams by opposing offensive linemen and, Dobitz said, more of Killdeer’s opponents trending toward shotgun or pistol offenses instead of traditional run-first or drop-back passing games have kept Pittsley from having out-of-this-world numbers.
He has 53 tackles, including eight for a loss, seven quarterback hurries with one sack and forced a fumble that he recovered.
Killdeer senior running back and linebacker Riley Rhode said opponents keying on Pittsley has forced other players to improve. Junior defensive end Calum Blankenship has 69 tackles and sophomore linebacker John Knopik has 64 tackles.
“It turns plays into our linebackers or our backside tackles,” Rhode said. “He may not be getting the stats he wants to, but it’s making our team 10 times better.”
The Cowboys have also had success running behind Pittsley and their big offensive line, which is senior-laden and averages more than 235 pounds.
A balanced attack with five players getting as many as 35 carries has helped Killdeer rush for 1,753 yards and 17 touchdowns this season.
“That is fun,” said Rhode, who has 307 yards rushing and a team-high five touchdowns. “One second you just see them and the next the hole opens up huge. I would not have the touchdowns or the yards I have without him. Running behind him, he knows where to go too.”
Pittsley described his style of play as “hard-nosed and straightforward.”
“I don’t try and do anything fancy,” he said. “I just try and beat the guy in front of me.”
His style of play has drawn the attention of several college teams, including the University of North Dakota, which first began talking to him as a sophomore. Pittsley said he has also been in contact with Dickinson State, the University of Mary, Northern State and Bemidji State.
He has an official visit to UND on Nov. 3 — that is unless Killdeer reaches the state semifinals.
“I still plan to be playing football,” Pittsley said with a smile.
Pittsley said life since his father’s death has settled down a bit for him and his mother, Sandee, who he thanks — along with his friends and other family members — for helping him through difficult times.
“I couldn’t do it without them, especially my mom,” Pittsley said.
No matter where he goes after his high school career is over, Pittsley will keep the same pre-game routine — a point to the sky and a prayer — because somewhere, his dad has a front-row seat.
“Everything I do is going towards him,” Pittsley said.