Lindsay brothers ready for emotional game between Buffs and Bears

  • Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer

    Colorado running back Phillip Lindsay will face his brother Zachary for the first time on Saturday.

  • Hyoung Chang / The Denver Post

    Zachary Lindsay, shown playing for Denver South in 2013, is a reserve running back for Northern Colorado.



Game at a glance

Matchup: Northern Colorado Bears (1-0) at Colorado Buffaloes (2-0)

Kickoff: 12:01 p.m.

Where: Folsom Field in Boulder. Capacity: 50,183; Turf: Grass

TV: Pac-12 Network

Radio: KOA (850 AM & 94.1 FM)

Odds: No line

Coaches: Colorado — Mike MacIntyre (5th season, 22-31; 38-52 career); UNC — Earnest Collins Jr. (7th season, 22-46; 30-58 career)

Series: CU leads 9-2 (5-1 in Boulder)

In the Lindsay home, the dining room table has never simply been a place to gather for a meal.

That table has been the glue to keep the family together.

“It was important every night that we’d cook dinner and make sure that we all sit at the table so that we could talk and rehash the day,” said Diane Lindsay, the matriarch of the family. “Even as (the five children) have gotten older, if they really need to talk about something they’ll come home and sit at the table.

“It’s made them close so that they’re talking to each other all the time.”

The tight bond of the Lindsay family will be on display Saturday when two of Diane’s boys, Phillip and Zachary, meet on the football field. Phillip and the Colorado Buffaloes (2-0) will take on Zachary and the Northern Colorado Bears (1-0) at Folsom Field.

CU and UNC will be meeting for the first time since 1934, and it’ll be the first time Phillip and Zachary have ever been on opposing teams.

In fact, it’s been a long time since they’ve even been in a game together. They were teammates at Denver South High School, but Phillip was injured throughout his senior year in 2012, and Zachary was injured throughout the previous year.

“It hurt that I wasn’t able to play with my brother for the two years in high school,” Phillip said. “It feels good to be able to see him and play against him at least and be on the same field as him and share a good moment.

“It’s going to be fun.”

It’ll be fun, in part, because it’s football and that’s what the Lindsay boys do.

Their father, Troy, played fullback at Colorado State years ago. Two cousins played at Oklahoma State. Now, Phillip is a senior star at CU, Zachary a junior reserve at UNC and Marcus is a freshman at CSU-Pueblo. All three brothers are running backs.

For Diane, the game was an acquired taste, but she knew that if she was going to be a Lindsay, she had to love football.

“It was something I had to grow into,” she said with a laugh.

More than football, however, this game at Folsom Field will be fun for the Lindsays because of that bond that developed over the dining room table.

Talk to Phillip and Zachary about football and it’s obvious they love the game. Talk to them about family and the passion in their words is almost infectious.

“We all wear it on our chest; we all have it tatted on us – family first,” said Zachary, who referred to Phillip as his best friend. “If I have nothing else, I have my family.

“My favorite part (on Saturday) is going to be after the game, when we get to all take pictures and talk.”

Troy and Diane ingrained that family value in their children — daughters Cheri and Sparkle and the three boys — from the start.

“Family is very important,” said Diane, who will wear a jersey on Saturday with Zachary’s No. 25 on the front and Phillip’s No. 23 on the back. “It makes me very proud of them that actually they did carry that value with them and that they know the importance of it.”

As is the case with most parents, Diane probably wondered if that message would ever get through to her boys.

There were days when the boys would jump on the trampoline and throw rocks at each other. Or days when Phillip and Zachary would become suspiciously quiet as they captured baby brother Marcus and tied him up.

On another day, Zachary threw the gun from the video game “Duck Hunt” at Phillip, and the loose cord sliced Phillip’s ear.

“I knew I was going to get a whooping after that,” Zachary said.

There have been numerous battles between the brothers over the years and those haven’t really stopped.

“When they all get together, it gets very loud and very rambunctious,” Diane said.

All the family dinners, football games and fights, however, have produced a mutual love and respect.

When Phillip and Zachary get on the field Saturday, emotions will run high because they know the journey each took to get here.

“I’m proud of him,” Phillip said of Zachary. “He’s matured and he’s grown up a lot since we were in high school. He’s a good man. That’s what it comes down to: developing yourself and building up character for real life. I’m proud of him for that. I love him to death.”

While Zachary hasn’t tasted the football success that Phillip has, there’s no hint of jealousy. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

“That’s my favorite player and that’s my idol,” Zachary said. “My brother, he’s a different specimen. My brother does things that most people could never do.

“He deserves everything he’s got, but I want more for him. I don’t know how to let it just be. I want my brother to win the Heisman; I want him to go to the NFL; I want him to be the best running back in the NFL.”

Phillip is the star running back for the Buffs, and recent history suggests he’s got a good chance of rushing for 100 yards and scoring a touchdown or two against the Bears.

Zachary has never rooted for an opponent, but admits that when Phillip has the ball on Saturday, “I’ll be trying to silently cheer.”

Phillip will do the same. Zachary is a backup whose impact on the game may be limited, but he has shown big-play ability. His 87-yard touchdown run last year is the longest run by a Bear in the last 20 years.

If Zachary’s able to break a long run against the Buffs, Phillip said, “I’m going to be happy inside, but mad at the defense because they shouldn’t be giving up nothing like that. But, I’ll probably have a smile on my face.”

There are sure to be plenty of smiles after the game. While the other three siblings won’t be at the game because of other obligations, the Lindsays are expecting a large group of family to attend, including some coming in from Kansas and Oklahoma.

They’ll be in Boulder to watch a football game, but they’ll really be there to support family and to create a memory that is sure to one day be a topic of conversation at the dinner table.

“The memory that will come from this the most is the fact of where we have come from and how much we’ve grown over time,” Zachary said.

“We all have different paths. That’s what makes us who we are, that’s what makes it fun.”

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