Brothers ready to unite

By Eric Burt

Buffy and Jody will not be in attendance, but Saturday’s (Sept. 9) football game at Nebraska will be a family affair nonetheless.

NIU defensive end Cary Caliendo and linebacker Steve Kurtz each have brothers that play for the Cornhuskers.

“This should be a pretty good homecoming,” Kurtz said. “My family will be there. My brother and I had to come up with 27 tickets. We didn’t get them, though.”

Caliendo’s twin brother, Chris, started the last eight games for the Huskers last season, including the Orange Bowl. A 6-2, 240-pound weakside linebacker, Caliendo racked up 53 tackles, one quarterback sack, one blocked punt and an interception en route to earning Honorable Mention All-Big Eight honors.

“It’s going to be a blast,” NIU’s Caliendo said. “I’ve been talking to my brother and other guys on Nebraska and they said they are really impressed with our playing.”

Caliendo doesn’t see major problems against Nebraska.

“Ken Clark (the Huskers’ top running back) can run all he wants,” Caliendo said, “but I don’t think he’s going anywhere against us (NIU’s defense).

“Nebraska’s just a team. They’re not better athletes. We’ve got some real good athletes on this team. We’ve got a lot of doers this year, not wanters. The overall attitude on the team is ‘we can do it’.”

For Kurtz, it will also be a homecoming.

“I’m from Omaha, which is about an hour from Lincoln,” Kurtz said. “There are 10 or 15 guys at Nebraska that I either played with or against in high school. We kind of razzed each other all summer long about the game. Working out at my old high school, we would talk a lot of smack.”

Kurtz’s brother, Scott, is a junior inside linebacker that was a walk-on at Nebraska.

“Nebraska asked me to walk on, but NIU offered me a scholarship,” said the 6-2, 218-pound Kurtz. “I wanted to go where they wanted me. I chose NIU and I am very happy with my choice.

“It didn’t really bother me that Nebraska didn’t offer me a scholarship. When I was in high school, they invited me down for all the home games and treated me nice. Then they left me in the cold.”

Growing up, Kurtz never really was a Cornhusker fan.

“Most people there (in Nebraska) eat, drink and sleep Nebraska football. I’ve kind of always liked Oklahoma.”

Kurtz wrapped this weekend’s family feeling up into one sentence.

“My brother and I are the best of friends,” he said, “but when we put the pads on, he is going to be the enemy. Simple as that.”