When Robby Calvert isn’t playing football in the fall or wrestling in the winter, one of his favorite pasttimes is hunting with his grandfather, Bob.
They’re both good hunters — patient and aware of their surroundings.
One thing they aren’t is small. With Robby at 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds, and his grandpa at 5-11, 280, that’s over 500 pounds of twig-breaking potential.
“We are pretty big. We will go to one spot, scope it out a lot and stalk it,” said Robby, who bagged a three-point buck last year and a cow elk four years ago. “It’s a little hard getting up at 4 a.m. after games to go, but it’s something I like to do with my grandpa.”
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Calvert has also found his niche on Kennewick’s offensive line, which was one of the biggest reasons the Lions captured the Mid-Columbia Conference championship last season. He expects another strong year with he and Jacob Meise anchoring the trenches.
“We should be able to get a good push inside,” Calvert said.
But the second-year starter has had to overcome quite a bit to get back to full health. His junior year was interrupted by two injuries that sidetracked his football and wrestling season.
Calvert, a guard, broke a bone in his ankle on Labor Day last season and missed three weeks. He tried to play through the pain, but eventually he decided it would be best to give it the rest it needed to come back.
“He broke that bone and still practiced the next day. We didn’t know it was broken until two days later,” said Andy Prein, Kennewick’s offensive line coach. “That really showed us how physical and mentally tough the kid is.”
He came back in time to face Walla Walla, and Calvert sure made a difference. Devven Ramos, the Lions running back, rushed for a career high 303 yards in a 40-28 Week 5 win over the Blue Devils.
Ramos went on to earn MCC Most Valuable Player, but he never forgot who got him there. Calvert enjoyed being the one who helped him.
“Just knowing you made the block that springs a guy for a touchdown is pretty cool,” Calvert said. “You put a guy on the ground and watch (the running back) go right by you as the crowd goes crazy.”
Calvert didn’t stop there. He and his five linemates helped the Lions rush for nearly 200 yards a game last season, good for third in the MCC.
“He battled injuries, but we plugged him in more and more, and he had a fine junior campaign,” Kennewick head coach Bill Templeton said. “He had a very good spring, so we’re excited to see how the next few months go.“He’s really become the player we were hoping he would.”
His teammates have noticed how much he’s grown into a leadership role since joining the Lions’ program.
“He’s grown a lot since his freshman year. He was bigger and slower back then, but now he’s more agile and a lot stronger than he was,” said center Jacob Meise, who has been Calvert’s teammate since seventh grade. “We’ve known each other a long time, so we know when to make audibles. If we see a stunt coming up, we can change the blocking scheme.”
While he isn’t known for monster bench-presses, Templeton has always been impressed by his natural strength. “He’s one of those farm boys, throwing hay bales across the field,” Templeton said. “He will just grab you and not let go.”
Calvert credits his father, Bob — a former lineman who coached him in youth football — for helping develop a healthy love of football, as well as some key fundamentals.
“We just did little drills and worked on my stance. He taught me how to long snap,” Calvert said. “He also taught me to never give up and pushed me to keep going.”
Calvert, who also throws the shot put and discus in the spring, hasn’t locked in on where he might play at the next level. He’s sent out some recruiting tapes to Eastern Oregon and Washington State, who both showed some interest.
If he does play in college, he’d like to get up to 280 but he knows that will take a lot more work. For now, he’s content with helping Kennewick win another league title.
“He’s definitely got the frame to work with,” Prein said. “He gets off the ball quickly, he pulls well and is very technically sound.”
He’s not sure when his next hunting trip with grandpa will be, but his next target will be right across from him when Kennewick takes on Lake City at 7:30 p.m. Friday night at Lampson Stadium.