Familiar dropback: Kiel brothers’ similar hobbies and sibling rivalries filled the Milaca QB position for years

Photo provided by Kiel Family (From left to right): Brian, Blake and Brandon come together at the end of Blake’s final football game as a Milaca Wolf
Photo provided by Kiel Family
(From left to right): Brian, Blake and Brandon come together at the end of Blake’s final football game as a Milaca Wolf

Milaca’s football season is over and with it went the end of an era that spanned seven seasons.
Starting with the oldest brother, Brandon, transitioning to Brian and ending Oct. 25 with Blake, the Kiel family has headed the high school quarterback position in Milaca for five of the last eight seasons. So, how did they all wind up playing the same position as the leader of the Wolves offense?
“Whenever I would come home from work we would throw and even if I wasn’t there they would still go out there,” said Lyle Kiel, their father.
The three boys spent countless hours on the field often times playing 1-on-1, receiver versus corner, with the third sibling acting as quarterback. Or, when their dad was out there, they played 2-on-1 with an extra defender.
In all sorts of weather, the three brothers, Brandon, now 22, Brian, 20, and Blake ,17, would go outside and hone their own skills while testing the others.
“When there was snow we would shovel out sidelines,” Blake said.
Once the field was created the games were intense.
“We were super competitive and one of us always came in [the house] with a cut.”
Quickly, those countless hours of fun and competition translated to the field. In elementary school, the boys always took on the role of being the quarterback during touch football games. Brandon, the first to start the trend, wanted to be like his favorite athlete at the time, Daunte Culpepper.  And when each boy got to play in pads as a fourth-grader they all became quarterbacks, following Brandon’s example.
“Brandon always kind of led the way,” said Blake, “It’s tough to go do something no one has ever done before.”
Years later, Brandon became the first of the siblings to play quarterback at the varsity level, earning some time during his sophomore season in 2009.
“It was eye opening for sure. The speed was a lot faster than what I was used to,” Brandon said.
The next year, Brandon settled into the position, scoring 21 touchdowns, passing for 1,124 yards and rushing for 644 more. Not to mention, leading Milaca Football to their only state appearance in school history.
“I was blessed with good athletes around me,” Brandon said. “We were a really close group. There were 15 to 20 of us and we’d hang out on and off the field.”
Believe it or not, the state year wasn’t Brandon’s favorite. It was the 2-7 season after that. Brian was a sophomore, carving out a role as a wide receiver on the varsity squad and Brandon loved to throw it to him.
“[It was} by far my favorite year. We can talk about state, but being on the field with him was just awesome,” Brandon said.
That doesn’t mean he wasn’t hard on little bro.
“I remember a game where he had the dropsies and I started chewing him out,” Brandon said, “Guys were telling me to relax and saying ‘c’mon he’s your brother,’ but I knew what he could do and expected him not to make mistakes.”
Then they connected against Princeton for their one and only regular season touchdown, a 15-yard score that added to Brian’s best game as a receiver, totaling 3 catches, 74 yards and a touchdown.
“That was the greatest thing I’d seen,” Lyle said about a picture snapshotting his two elder sons high-fiving after the touchdown.
After that season Brandon left for Central Lakes College and Brian filled the vacated quarterback position. Despite the success of his older brother, Brian didn’t feel much pressure.
“I was ready for it,” Brian said. “Instead of having big shoes to fill, I kind of made my own shoes.”
Brian would take over the spot for a season, posting 471 yards passing, 502 yards rushing and 10 total touchdowns.
Nathan Hass then slotted in as quarterback for three years and Brian shifted back into a wide receiving role for his senior season.
Blake moved up to the varsity team a year later and, like Brian, moved to a wide receiver spot, while waiting for his time to take over the reins. This year, that moment arrived and Blake was experiencing the stress of trying to play up to the level of his older brothers.
“There was a lot of added pressure. Brian and Brandon had reasonably successful careers and I wanted to be better than they were,” Blake said.
Brandon, now an assistant coach at Milaca, was there to try and make that possible. Using his experience playing wide receiver at Central Lakes College for two years, Brandon would help diagnose team defenses and provide Blake with ways around coverage schemes. He also provided encouragement or the opposite when it was needed.
“If I made a mistake he would be the first one on the sideline chewing out my butt. He would tear me down, but then build me back up and give me the confidence I needed,” Blake said.
It paid dividends. Even though Milaca had a rough season, Blake was one of the bright spots, finishing third in Class 3A for passing yards this season. He posted 1132 passing yards, 142 rushing yards and 11 total touchdowns.
“He was first in class 3A in passing yards one week and he got on the phone right away and let us know about it,” Brian said.
Blake was much more of a pocket passer than his brothers and Brandon believes that style difference can be attributed to being the youngest child during those days out in the yard.
“Because [Blake] was so young, he was slower, so most of the time me and Brian would go up against each other and Blake would have to throw us the ball.”
That extra repetition, Brandon believes, could have been the basis for a pass-first mindset that his brothers often times didn’t have.
Now, football season is over and there isn’t another Kiel to pass the torch to, but even after Blake finishes up high school sports the brotherly competitiveness that was so prevalent when Blake was throwing passes to his brothers is still far from relinquished.
“The rifle opener was a little bit ago (Nov. 5) and now we’ve got to see who can shoot the biggest deer,” Brian said.