Friday, November 12, 1999

Dixie twins not afraid to criticize each other

Enquirer contributor

Chris Unkraut is the QB; brother Tom is a WR.
(Craig Ruttle photo)
| ZOOM |
        Twin brothers Chris and Tom Unkraut insist they aren't as competitive with each other as many believe. That doesn't mean they don't want to win, and if it means occasionally getting into each other's face, so be it.

        “He's my brother,” said Tom, a Dixie Heights senior receiver. “If he's not playing good, I'm not afraid to tell him.

        “I'll come up and tell him to get his head on straight, and he does the same with me. We both help each other realize that we need to start playing.”

        It's paying off, too. So far this season, the Unkrauts have led the Colonels to a 9-2 record, the No.2 spot in the Enquirer's coaches poll and the second round of the Class AAA playoffs. Dixie Heights hosts Holmes (8-3) tonight at 7:30.

        The Colonels, who have never won a state title, are reaping the benefits of a strong, 22-member senior class that has three consecutive winning seasons. They also reached the second round of the playoffs last season.

        “When they were sophomores, we had a pretty good team, but we lost to Holmes in the fourth or fifth game of the season and that knocked us out of playoffs,” coach Tom Spritzky said. “That team was senior-dominated.

        “When those guys graduated, these kids all got to play as juniors. Last year, we were pleasantly surprised at how we finished the year. This year, we had 22 seniors coming back, and 10 or 12 of them are great football players. We felt like we could compete for the state championship.”

        The Unkraut combination is a large part of the package.

        Chris, who threw for 1,549 yards and nine touchdowns last season, has added 1,723 yards and 19 TDs this year. Tom, who led Northern Kentucky with 42 receptions last year while gaining 657 yards and scoring three TDs, has seen his numbers drop this season — 28 catches, 529 yards, five TDs — but only because Chris is spreading the ball around to other receivers.

        Spritzky believes the Unkrauts' competitiveness stems from their family background. They are the last of eight children.

        “They've had to work for the things they wanted,” he said. “Things weren't easy to come by for them.”

        Chris believes what others see as sibling rivalry is merely the twins' interest in helping their team win, whether it's football in the fall or baseball in the spring. They are a potent, right-handed 1-2 punch on the Dixie Heights baseball team. Tom went 5-1 last spring while Chris was 8-2 with 96 strikeouts.

        “In football, we're not competitive” with each other, Chris said. “That's probably because we don't play the same position. If we actually got to hit each other, it might be a different story.

        “In baseball, we're just trying to help the team out. I'm not even thinking about competitiveness with Tommy.”

        This week, the Unkrauts and their teammates are focusing on Holmes. The seniors are trying to push aside any thoughts about this being their last shot at a state championship.

        “There hasn't been too much said in the locker room,” Tommy said. “I'm sure it's in the back of our heads. It's in all our minds, but there's no big picture. There's just one picture: Holmes.”


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