Dennehy brothers part of successful offensive lines at Mesa and Chadron
The past couple of seasons, the Mesa State-Chadron State football game has been a big deal.
The two programs have won seven of the past 10 RMAC titles and both qualified for the NCAA Division II playoffs last year.
The game is an even bigger deal in the Dennehy home in Lakewood. Older brother Chris plays for Mesa State (6-3, 6-1 RMAC) and little brother Shane plays for Chadron State (8-1, 7-0 RMAC).
“It’s a big game,” Chris said. “It’s been talked about at the dinner table the last two years. The question always arises, when am I going to get my (RMAC championship) ring?”
Shane, a 6-foot-1, 275-pound sophomore, received an RMAC championship ring after last season, his first at Chadron State, and is looking for his second one this year. Chris, a 6-foot, 300-pound senior, is still looking for his first one.
The brothers’ respective teams go against each other at noon on Saturday at Stocker Stadium and the whole family will be in attendance, wearing T-shirts with the brothers’ names and jersey numbers (65 and 71). The game will be broadcast live on KGJT (Ch. 16) with first place in the RMAC on the line.
“It’s do-or-die time,” Chris said. “There is no room for talk. We need to play the best we can. We can determine our own fate.
“We’ve got to win both (remaining RMAC) games to do anything. We know that. It’s in our hands and we wouldn’t want it any other way.”
The brothers are looking forward to the matchup, but their parents aren’t.
“I know Mom won’t like it,” Chris said. “My parents are so nervous.”
The boys were born in Grand Junction, but the family moved to the Denver metropolitan area, where they attended Green Mountain High School.
“It was tough growing up being the youngest,” Shane said. “I was always picked on, but it made me tougher.
I can thank them now.
“We could skip a rock across the lake and make it a competition. I liked growing up in a big house.”
Chris and Shane anchored the Green Mountain High School offensive line, both making the all-conference team.
Chris’ success led him to Mesa State, where he has been a big part of the Mavericks’ success running the ball.
“I can’t say enough about Chris,” Mesa State coach Joe Ramunno said. “He represents the blue-collar, hard-work ethic.”
Mesa State’s other senior guard, Trevor Wikre, can vouch for that.
“Between going against him and playing with him, I’ve seen two different side of how he plays,” said Wikre, who played defensive line before switching to offense last year. “He is very aggressive. He has a mean attitude on the field. He has the lineman’s mentality.”
In fact, Chris played with a torn knee ligament last year and waited to have surgery until after the season.
“He lost a lot of stability and power off the leg, but did a great job in a limited capacity,” Ramunno said.
Chris’ accomplishments inspired Shane to play at the collegiate level.
“Chris had a huge impact on me,” said Shane, who decided to go to Chadron in part to avoid competing with his brother for the same position and in part because of the Eagles’ coaching staff. “I owe a lot to him. He got me going hard. When he went to Mesa, I was a junior in high school. That got me into it. I thought, ‘maybe I
can do it, too.’ He would come back and tell me what I need to do.”