BY JEFF FALK
A senior outside linebacker on the Lebanon Valley College football team, Kyle Wenger’ sphere of influence falls under the direction of defensive coordinator Vince Pantalone, who reports directly to head coach Jim Monos.
A defensive backs coach, Corey Wenger’s sphere of influence also falls under the direction of Pantalone, who again, reports directly to head coach Monos.
That sort of makes Kyle Wenger and Corey Wenger second cousins in Lebanon Valley’s football family.
Kyle Wenger’s father Dave Wenger is the brother of Lloyd Wenger, who is Corey Wenger’s father. That makes Kyle and Corey first cousins in the Wenger family.
Besides a lineage, a taste for football and a love for LVC, Kyle Wenger and Corey Wenger share a strong desire to be part of a family. It was a desire that was fostered in their nuclear families and cultivated in their extended football families.
“It actually motivates me,” said Kyle Wenger, the player. “Having a coach on staff that you’re related to, you never want to disappoint the family name. You’ve got to uphold it, not disrespect it. I’ve got to give it 100 percent because you never know who’s watching.”
“It’s awesome,” said Corey Wenger, the coach. “It’s one of the best experiences I’ve had with life and coaching. It’s hard to put any kind of value on it. It’s a family-type situation.
“I would say that Kyle plays with a lot of emotion, but he’s 100 percent committed,” added Corey Wenger. “When you talk about the consummate team player, that’s him. I’ve never heard a ‘me’ thing out of him. He does everything we can to make himself better, and he does everything he can to make the team better.”
Corey and Kyle are both residents of the Myerstown area and graduates of Elco High School. And they were both drawn to Lebanon Valley College in individual and indirect ways.
If anything, Kyle followed the lead of brother Adam to Annville. Adam Wenger, who graduated from Lebanon Valley in May of 2012, was a defensive back who was coached by Uncle Corey.
“He did and he didn’t,” said Kyle of the influence Corey had on his decision to matriculate to LVC. “He didn’t push me to come to LVC. But having him there and having my brother there made me feel comfortable before I stepped on campus. I was recruited as a safety and he’s a safety coach. He didn’t have a huge influence on me. Most kids on the team don’t even know we’re related. He treats me just like he treats everybody else.
“To be honest, after football season in high school, I didn’t want to play college football,” added Kyle. “I wanted to play baseball. LVC wasn’t on my radar. Coach Monos came to talk to me at the high school. I got the whole family feel. The small school atmosphere is a good fit for me.”
“I didn’t want to push too hard,” said Corey. “I am a coach and a recruiter. But I didn’t want to sell Adam short or didn’t want him to feel a family obligation. But in my heart of hearts, I wanted him to be a part of the LVC family.
“In Adam especially it was special because he was a defensive back,” continued Corey. “Kyle came in as a safety, and I was excited about that, but he jumped to outside linebacker. You root for everybody on the field with a blue uniform on. But when it’s your blood out there, you root a little bit harder.”
Kyle and Corey’s football connection has enhanced their relationship off the football field. While they share many of the same family traits, they are almost a generation apart in the Wenger clan.
The 5-8, 192-pound Kyle is preparing to graduate with a degree in digital communications. Married, the father of two and a principal in the Lebanon school district, Corey is 15 years Kyle’s elder.
“He’s a lot older, but I look to him for guidance,” said Kyle of Corey. “He’s a real smart guy. He knows football Xs and Os. Off the field, we don’t hang out like other cousins do, even though he only lives like a mile away. But it’s a good relationship. He’s willing to talk to me about anything.
“The way I see it, he’s not a huge vocal guy,” Kyle continued. “He’s not going to get in your face. He’s a teacher. He’ll break things down for you. His coaching style is from a teaching perspective. He’ll tell you what to expect and when to expect it. Our personalities are a lot different. He reminds me a lot of my brother. I do something and see how it works out. We’re sort of opposites in a way. I’m a little more emotional.”
“Coaching them, they (Kyle and Adam) are two of the most impressive young men I’ve ever been around,” said Corey, who’s in his eighth season on the Flying Dutchmen football staff. “The work ethic and the selflessness are just unbelievable. To see that part of them and to know they’re family, that’s special for me.
“We all value each other,” continued Corey. “The big part is Jim (Monos) and how it filters down, and the family atmosphere he creates. We all promote the same values. The kids we have are blue-collar kids. They just love playing football.”
For most of the Wengers’ run at Lebanon Valley, the Flying Dutchmen, who are currently 4-1, have enjoyed unprecedented success on the gridiron. The winning has made their family experience all the more enjoyable.
“We’re off to a great start,” said Kyle. “We’re where we expected to be. We have a bunch of players who love to play the game. We have a lunch-pail mentality. Coach always preaches one game at a time. But our goal is to win the MAC (Middle Atlantic Conference), and we have a bunch of big games coming up.
“It (going to LVC) was one of the biggest decisions of my life, and it turned out great,” Kyle continued. “The class sizes are small, so I’m not just a number. Meeting kids from different schools and coming together, it’s been awesome. And I got to play with my brother, and that was a great experience, and got to be part of a team with my cousin. It’s something that will stick with me for a lifetime.”
“The season’s going very well,” said Corey. “We had high hopes coming in and so far we’re living up to them. We have such a great group of seniors. We’re 4-1 and we’d like to have the Widener (a 35-28 loss) game back.
“If you look back, we tend to play better football as we go on,” Corey added. “Our guys understood what we had to do from Day One. Record-wise, we’ll see how it goes. But it goes back to one game at a time.”