When the Northwestern State football team enters Tiger Stadium on Saturday night, family allegiances may be put to the test.
The Kinchen and O’Donoghue families both have sons suiting up for the Demons, but the lineages of the two clans are filled with student-athletes whose purple was trimmed with gold instead of orange.
Sophomore long snapper McKane Kinchen’s father, Brian, was a two-time All-SEC tight end for the Tigers in the early 1990s before becoming a 12-year NFL veteran and Super Bowl champion. McKane Kinchen’s older brothers Austin and Hunter followed as LSU long snappers. Those ties will be pressed Saturday night at 6:39 when the game kicks off, but they also provided the younger Kinchen with valuable insight into how to handle the upcoming matchup.
“It’s going to be surreal,” McKane Kinchen said. “I dreamed all my life of playing in Tiger Stadium, whether it was for them or against them. It’s going to be extremely fun. Having friends and family there makes it more comfortable for me than maybe someone who’s not familiar with it. It’s like going home.”
McKane Kinchen is one of several Demons who have direct ties to the LSU athletic program, a theme that continues on both sides of Saturday’s matchup.
LSU head coach Ed Orgeron and defensive line coach Bill Johnson are Northwestern State N-Club Hall of Famers. LSU defensive analyst August Mangin had two different stints on the Northwestern State coaching staff, including a four-season run as the Demons special teams coordinator from 2014-17. Another LSU defensive analyst, Dennis Johnson, was a graduate assistant from 2012-13 at NSU.
The NSU-LSU connection straddles other sporting lines as Lady Tigers assistant coach Lindsay Leftwich was a three-year letter winner as a Lady Demons softball pitcher. Leftwich was an All-Southeast Region, All-Southland Conference and All-Louisiana selection in 2002.
LSU Associate Athletic Director for Ticket Sales Brian Broussard served under longtime Northwestern State Director of Athletics Tynes Hildebrand.
Senior running back Jared West’s cousin Corey Webster was a standout cornerback for the Tigers from 2001-04, helping LSU capture the 2003 BCS national championship. West also is the cousin of former LSU basketball standouts Collis and Garrett Temple.
Junior linebacker Ricky Chatman’s father, Ricky Sr., was a Tigers linebacker from 1980-84.
Current NSU Director of Strength and Conditioning Jared Myatt spent time at LSU as a volunteer strength and conditioning coach in the spring of 2017.
In addition to those direct ties to the LSU athletic program, the Demons’ roster has 10 players from the greater Baton Rouge area who will play close to home Saturday.
Much like McKane Knichen, senior tight end Tyler O’Donoghue has deep family links to LSU.
Both of O’Donoghue’s parents, father John and mother Kelli, were LSU student-athletes who helped the school earn national championships in baseball and track and field, respectively. O’Donoghue’s sister, Abby, currently is a jumper on LSU’s track team.
“They’re my family, but this is my family here (at NSU),” Tyler O’Donoghue said. “It’s going to be fun to go down there and sort of be a homecoming.”
For McKane Kinchen and Tyler O’Donoghue, Saturday’s game gives them a chance to play a game in a place both attended numerous games and a place where they dreamed of playing as children.
Facing a top-five opponent will make for a tough task for the pair and their NSU teammates, but it may pale in comparison to some of the decisions their parents and siblings have to make in terms of their Saturday night wardrobes.
“My dad made a joke about it,” McKane Kinchen said. “A bunch of his friends said, ‘You can’t wear purple and orange,’ so he’s going with a neutral purple.”
O’Donoghue’s family situation is a little different because of Abby O’Donoghue’s status as a current LSU student-athlete.
“My dad and mom will be wearing NSU stuff, but if my sister wears NSU stuff, I may be a little upset with her because she competes for them,” Tyler O’Donoghue said.
Photo Credit: Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services