Mekhi Kilburn finally got another chance with special teams on Oct. 6 after admitting he felt “salty” over the events of the past few weeks for the Northland football team.
It took some time for word to get around, but in the Vikings’ first four games, Kilburn returned four kickoffs for touchdowns and would have scored had he not been called back by penalties. After returning the wax punt, he objected. The team stopped kicking his way.
Then in the fourth quarter of a 46–8 win over the Centennials, the senior speedsters returned a punt 38 yards for a touchdown.
“When the ball is in the air and I’m looking for it, I’m thinking, ‘Where’s my best blocker?'” Kilburn said. “Analyze where the hole is, find the gap and take off. Then with his buddies we reach the end zone and everyone is happy.”
Kilburn had just eight kickoff returns and four punt returns in seven games, but kicked off 75 and 70 yards in the Vikings’ 48–28 opener loss to St. Charles on August 18. Recorded the return.
Northland’s game against Whitehall in Week 2 was canceled due to the Columbus teachers’ strike, but they returned the first kickoff 96 yards to score in a 40–20 loss to Urbana on September 2. won.
In the City League North Division match on 8 September, Kilburn started the second half in a 56-12 win over Whetstone, picking the ball off the ground and returning it 91 yards after a short kick-off.
Kilburn, who entered the season to make an impact after joining the district from Westerville Central, has also contributed at wide receiver and running back, as well as in the secondary.
He had 37 rushes for 335 yards, two touchdowns, eight receptions for 101 yards, and scored two goals in seven games.
Division II, Region 7 playoff contenders Northland were 3-4 overall and 3-1 at City North before facing Mifflin on October 13.
Despite being his first season with the program, Kilburn has impressed coach Ryan Sayers with his leadership abilities.
When the Vikings lost 18–6 in the East on Sept. 29, Sayers remembers Kilburn telling him late in the fourth quarter: I’m glad. ”
“It’s special when you get a kid like that,” Sayers said. He’s the best kid I’ve been blessed with, and he brings another spark to our kids.”
Kilburn grew up in Delaware and played lacrosse, baseball, and basketball in addition to soccer before moving to Westerville in middle school.
During his freshman and sophomore seasons at Westerville Central, Kilburn primarily competed at junior varsity level, with limited varsity action, and also competed in the wrestling program.
He was part of the Warhawks’ football program through the summer of 2021, but didn’t play for Central last fall and instead moved to Northland last winter.
Last spring, at the City League Athletics Games, he finished in two individual events and helped the Vikings finish third in the 400m relay.
He’s also gotten to know members of the football team in the past few months and has blended in well offensively with junior running back Amir Brown.
Brown rushed for 701 yards and nine touchdowns in seven games.
“Amir Brown is just opening the lane for Mekhi to hit the edge,” Sayers said. Move forward and change speed. ”
The Vikings will close out the regular season at noon on October 22 against the last team to lose in 2018, the Beechcrofts, who lost 20-16 at home a year ago.
“I love it here. Everything is great here,” said Kilburn. “I love being a leader and I love that people follow me. will be ready.”