ALEDO — Like any young boy growing up in and around Aledo, Landon McIntosh was exposed to the local phenomenon that was Green Dragon football at an early age.
And like many of those local youth, McIntosh was doubly inspired by seeing his older brother Yancy wear the Aledo uniform with pride a decade ago. As a sophomore, the older McIntosh was a wide receiver and defensive back for the 2002 Green Dragon squad that capped a 14-0 finish with a second straight Class 2A state championship.
"He taught me everything about football. He was a hard worker who went all-out," said Landon McIntosh, a senior lineman for the successor to the Aledo and Westmer programs, the Mercer County Golden Eagles. The Golden Eagles are 13-0 and playing for their first 2A state title on the same Memorial Stadium turf where Yancy earned his gold medal 10 years before.
The pursuit of his dream — to win a state title of his own — also will double as a tribute for the younger McIntosh, still dealing with the loss of his older brother in a car accident during the blizzard of Jan. 31-Feb. 1, 2011.
"It's for the team and for him. That's it," Landon stated emphatically. "He went to state, and I've dreamed of doing this my whole life."
After Yancy's passing, McIntosh turned to the sport they had in common for solace.
"As soon as he passed, football became a way for me to channel how I was feeling and my way of showing him what I wanted to be," he said. "He was always that guy on the sidelines, telling me what to do. Even though he's not here, I've taken his advice and kept on going."
Having made himself a force on the front lines as part of a dominating Golden Eagle defensive corps, the 5-foot-10, 210-pounder has compiled eight tackles for loss, tying him with junior tackle Bobby Lincoln for team-high honors, and his 93 assists (to go with 18 solo tackles) are second only to the 98 posted by junior linebacker Chris Neeld.
And from a personal standpoint, this will be McIntosh's second state experience, as he got to compete with the Mercer County wrestling team — which also includes many of his football teammates — at last February's IHSA Class 1A State Team Duals in Bloomington, where the Eagles placed third.
It's that band of brothers that has helped Landon McIntosh to move on after the loss of a beloved sibling as together they now stand on the threshold of making all their dreams come true.
"If I had a tough day, they understood why, and they'd help me through it," he said. "These guys have all been here for me."