Photo by Brock Kennedy
Story by J.D. McKay
My football career in southern Indiana is over. My last season was exciting. We won sectionals. We also beat New Albany, Jeff, and Providence. It is crazy that it is over.
I started playing football when I was three years old. I would run routes with my dad, and if I could not get anyone to play with me, I would throw the football up to myself as Peyton Manning and run under it as Dallas Clark. I also would play football in my living room. Astonishingly, I have no scars on my head or body from running into furniture, the fireplace, or mantle during these games. However, I did lose my second tooth playing football with my dad.
Fast forward to when I was seven, and I played flag football for the first time. Since then, I have not missed a year of football. After one year of flag, I played tackle for the first time. My dad was always one of my coaches. I played almost every skill position on offense in Little League. However, I spent most of my time at QB. One of my funniest memories from Little League was my center, senior linebacker and center Adam Hynes, wearing a cup when I was under center. Another good memory came from fourth grade. My team, the Bengals, beat the undefeated Colts in the Super Bowl, winning my only little league championship. I still have that trophy.
In fifth grade, my dad started coaching at Highland Hills. He suggested to head FC coach Brian Glesing that he have some actual ball boys instead of injured players having the balls ready during the game. So, starting in fifth grade, I have been on the sideline at all but about two Friday night games, except for my freshman year.
One of the most memorable games came from fifth grade at Jennings County. It rained, snowed and sleeted like crazy that game. The weird thing was, the whole day was warm, so most people were unprepared for the cold, including several coaches, who wore shorts the whole game.
Seventh grade was my worst season by record. However, the next year coach Tom Hodge became head coach and we were 7-1. The QB-to-TE connection senior Trace Willman and I had that year was like Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski. I caught a ball from him one handed, and, of course, tripped as I turned upfield. He also delivered a perfect pass that I did not trip on and took 40 yards for the game tying touchdown against River Valley. The next play, D-1 senior kicker Cole Hussung took in the two-point conversion for the win. That was the last TD I scored until this year.
My freshman year, I saw a potential opening on varsity the following year and moved to guard as well as playing linebacker. The paid off the next season when I started as guard from Week 4 on.
Week 3 of that year was against Madison. It was just after Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, so the remains of it were on their way up. It hit us during the game and was the coldest, wettest, nastiest game I have ever played in.
Unfortunately, the injury bug hit us that game but it opened up a varsity spot for me. Eventually, we pounded the ball against New Albany for two straight games and won the Anchor and the first round of sectionals. That team was very good, but unfortunately, we lost to Columbus East, who was on their way to a state championship. I like to say that we were their closest game, though, only losing to them by 30.
Last year, I was hit with my first injury in football. I was out from the fifth play of the first game to Week 4. Unfortunately, we were 5-5 last season. I got to play with the best player I have played with so far in Tyler Edwards. He was excellent at hitting creases at running back and reading plays as an outside linebacker.
I also played LB with Levi Hamby. He started playing his sophomore year after going to Christian Academy. He showed underclassmen what great work ethic was. He had to work very hard to even have a chance at playing varsity after starting late. But, he put in work in the weight room and on the field, eventually leading the team in tackles.
This season was my favorite season of football so far, though. I am sure everyone reading this is shocked by that. I was a captain along with senior Calvin Brown. We won sectionals for the first time in 10 years, completed the sweep (beat New Albany, Jeff, and Providence every year for four years), and finished 9-3. In Week 3 against Vincennes Lincoln, we had six picks. I had one, and Willman took one for six with a cast on his left hand. The next week, we tied the record for the biggest margin of victory against the Dogs, beating them 50-14. We started down 0-14 that game but scored 50 unanswered. The following week, we beat Jeff in the National Guard jerseys. I think I gained a lot of confidence that game that carried through the rest of the season.
The first round of sectionals was another close, physical battle with Bedford (check out my column on the BNL FC rivalry https://fchsbagpiper.wordpress.com/2019/11/06/bedford-football-rivalry-has-grown-recently/). Then, the next week, we won sectionals. I had my first TD since eighth grade after the Jeff running back fumbled the pitch and after trying to grab it, knocked it into the ground and into my hands. That play has been my favorite individual moment of playing football. Our defense played lights out against Jeff and gave up 0 defensive points. Last Friday was my last high school game. We were up 14-13 at half but stalled in the second half, eventually losing 40-14. I had a pick on the second play of the half, but it did not matter.
Next year, I am hoping to play football at Wheaton College in Illinois, with a bunch of dudes who love Jesus, as well as a coach who loves Jesus and also has a win percentage over .800 and is ranked third in Division 3 currently.