Mark Story

Mark Story: For Roy Kidd's grandson, football 'homecoming' in Kentucky has not gone according to script

Kody Kidd with his father Keith, and grandfather Roy Kidd at Madison Central High School in Richmond.
Photo by Tim Webb
Kody Kidd with his father Keith, and grandfather Roy Kidd at Madison Central High School in Richmond. Photo by Tim Webb LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER

RICHMOND — When Keith Kidd's job as Denver Broncos director of player personnel ended in May 2013, the son of the iconic, former Eastern Kentucky University football coach Roy Kidd called a family meeting in Colorado.

The topic on the floor for Keith, wife Laurie and son Kody was what to do next.

"My teenage son, our only son, said he wanted to finish up high school in Kentucky," Keith Kidd said. "He said he wanted to play high school football in front of Dad (Roy Kidd). I mean, what are you going to do with that?"

The answer was move to Kentucky.

So when the 2014 Kentucky high school football playoffs open Friday night, Kody Kidd will be wearing No. 19 and playing wide receiver for Madison Central as the Indians (3-7) travel to Simon Kenton (9-1) for a Class 6A first-round matchup.

For Kody, a 5-foot-7, 145-pound junior, playing high school football in front of the grandfather who won two national championships and 314 games while coaching at EKU from 1964-2002 is a thrill. "He's the reason I want to do football," Kody said.

Roy Kidd, 82, said he and his grandson "are very close. He's a really good kid. He's 'Yes sir, no sir' with me, tells me he loves me. Just as good a kid as he could be. And he really loves football."

He wasn't even old enough to go to school, Kody said, when his grandfather gave him a lesson in Kidd family competitiveness.

"We were at a Cracker Barrel eating and we were playing checkers," Kody said. "He was just destroying me. I was like, 4, 5 years old. He didn't let you win. He made you learn, life is not about receiving, it's about taking. I loved it."

Roy Kidd's national titles at EKU, in 1979 and '82, came many, many years before Kody was born in 1997. Kody says he does have vague memories of his grandfather's final season as EKU head man in 2002.

In the Hollywood version, Kody Kidd would have come back to Kentucky to play at Madison Central, the school where his dad, Keith, was once the starting quarterback and was a star on an undefeated baseball state championship team (1982), and become a football standout himself.

In the real-life version, Kody has faced a vexing series of unexpected challenges.

Last year, Kody ran a slant pattern in a preseason scrimmage against Pulaski County. He caught the pass, got tackled and ended up with a broken right collarbone. The injury knocked him out until the sixth game of the 2013 season.

When he returned against Paul Laurence Dunbar, Kody got the ball on an end around on the first play. When he got tackled, he broke his left collarbone. "That was the end of that season," Kody said.

This year, Kody played the full game in Madison Central's opener against Murray. "He had a nice game, showed some real flashes," said Madison Central Coach Mark Scenters.

Yet the next week in practice, during a third-down drill, Kody dived to make a catch and took a shot in the side of the leg. The result was a mysterious, lingering leg injury.

"My leg would just go numb," Kody said. "We went to three different doctors and they told us different things. One said it was a deep-bone bruise. Then, someone said it was a pain-tolerance issue. Finally, someone said it was 'compartment syndrome.'"

According to the website, compartment syndrome is "a potentially life threatening condition in which pressure builds up in the legs, abdomen or arms, damaging tissue."

For Kody, the result was seven more missed games. "Kody's a good football player," Scenters said. "I just wish he'd get a chance to show it."

Kody finally got back in action in Madison Central's next-to-last game of the regular season at Lafayette. So going into Friday night's playoff contest at Simon Kenton, he has competed in a whopping four games since his family moved back to Kentucky so he could play football in front of his grandad.

"God bless him," Roy Kidd said, "It's been rough."

At least by being in Kentucky, Kody says he has been able to draw on words from his grandfather to help get through his frustration.

"He always says it's not really about playing football, it's taking what you have learned from situations in football," Kody Kidd says. "One of the main lessons of football is 'when you get knocked down, you have to get back up.' That's a lesson I've sure learned."