BY JEREMY SCHNEIDER | MIRROR SPORTS — Shane Kinnee was still a high school student at Anthony Wayne when he decided coaching, and not playing, was his future in football.
Kinnee didn’t play high school football for the Generals, instead opting to coach youth football. One of his first players was extremely familiar – his younger brother, Grant.
Fast forward nearly a decade later and both Kinnees have found tremendous success in football, Shane as the offensive coordinator at Maumee and Grant as the star quarterback at Anthony Wayne.
The Panthers and Generals have combined to win 10 of their 16 games, and both programs appear to be heading into the postseason.
For at least one person, the success of the two teams has forced Michelle Kinnee into a unique problem of trying to follow both of her sons.
“I wish I could cut myself in half and go to both of their games,” she said. “Shane works so hard and it’s hard to not be at his games, but with Grant being in high school, you know his days are only so long, you only get so many.
“We’ve always been a football family. It’s exciting that they’re both winning and they’re both supportive of each other.
“Besides not being at both (games), it’s an awesome thing to have.”
After coaching stops throughout the area, including a season as a student assistant at The University of Toledo, Shane followed Evan Karchner to Maumee after a season at Evergreen.
Kinnee has been instrumental in the resurgence of the Panthers, who are 4-4 and on the cusp of a Division III playoff berth behind a strong offense. Maumee is averaging 33 points and 380 yards per game.
“I always said it’s a blessing that I got to meet Shane,” Karchner said. “It was just an email he sent that he’d like to interview for the job (at Evergreen), and I hired him and we never looked back.”
Just a few miles away, Grant has led the Generals to a 6-2 record and the No. 2 spot in the Division II, Region 6 standings. A dual-threat junior quarterback, Kinnee leads the Northern Lakes League with 820 rushing yards while throwing for 1,033 yards and 17 touchdowns, completing 60 percent of his 141 attempts.
Even though Shane coached Grant from his second-grade year through eighth grade, the older brother is quick to deflect any credit for the success Grant is having.
“I think he was going to be a really good player regardless of who his older brother or father figure is,” Shane said. “He’s just a really good athlete.
“I’d like to think I helped make football fun for him.”
While they’re both busy on Friday nights, the brothers will meet up over the weekend to watch Grant’s games, either film on Hudl or a replay on BCSN. Shane said he tries to help Grant in any way he can, including going on college visits and to camps with him.
“Me and my brother have a really good connection,” Grant said. “There were definitely times as a child that he definitely should have beat my butt, but he always protected me.
“To have his mind around, with football, is a great resource for me. I would have Zoom meetings with my quarterback coach over coverages and things, and I would bring them back to Shane and he’d help me with my homework. He breaks down film for me sometimes.
“We definitely have a really special connection.”
Shane admits to sneaking a peek at his phone during halftime of the Maumee games to check on the Anthony Wayne score. While it is hard for him not to be in the stands to support his brother, Shane said the two support each other.
“It hurts,” Shane said. “It will really hurt me on his Senior Night when I’m not able to go out there with him, but it is what it is. I think he understands that I like football a lot and I love to coach. We have that mutual interest. We always find time to watch the game together.”
The success of her sons hasn’t surprised Michelle. She has watched them every step of the way, putting in more work than nearly anyone else. Shane’s obsession with football, in particular, left his mark around the Kinnee house.
“I couldn’t tell you how many notebooks I have filled with X’s and O’s,” she said. “If I would have saved every notebook Shane wrote X’s and O’s in, I would have at least a couple hundred.
“I had X’s and O’s on my bedroom mirror once. We were sitting in there, and there’s Shane going around. It doesn’t surprise me.”
Grant added, “He’s definitely put in the hours. He would stay up to 3:00, 4:00 in the morning just watching film. He’s put in the work.”
The Kinnee family connection with Maumee didn’t start this year. In fact, both Shane and Grant played youth sports in Maumee and know many of the current Panthers very well. Grant said it’s crazy to see Shane coach some of the same kids he grew up playing youth sports with.
For Michelle, having her oldest son go to coach at Maumee was a homecoming of sorts.
“It’s actually like home for me – it’s a second home,” Michelle said. “He couldn’t have gone to a better place. All of those parents know both of my boys. They have taken him in, they’ve been really good. That community has been so good to Shane and Evan.”
When he was still a student, Shane considered going to Maumee, but the district wasn’t open enrollment, so he stayed at Anthony Wayne. That doesn’t mean he isn’t a Panther at heart, however.
“I went to Anthony Wayne, but all my friends went to Maumee. I know I’m not a grad of Maumee, but I’ve always been in Maumee since I was little,” Shane said. “I look at myself as a Maumee guy.”
Both Shane and Grant have at least two more games left in their season, Anthony Wayne hosting Northview and Maumee hosting Fostoria this week. If their dedication to the game – and each other – has anything to say about it, though, the Kinnees will have more football than that to play this season.