Varsity football players keep same game mindset despite bigger Homecoming crowds

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Maggie Meyer

The Homecoming football game is arguably the biggest football game of the year.

Athletics Director Jim Inskeep said via email, “Historically (the Homecoming game has) 25% or more attendance from students over other home games. Typically, the Homecoming game (has) the largest attendance of each season.”

However, Zach Osborne, quarterback and senior, said the larger crowd does not affect him and his preparation for the game.

The CHS student section cheers on the football team at a game against Center Grove. Linebacker and senior Jackson Reece said, while the team mainly focuses on their own performance, the support from students and fans at the Homecoming game gives a boost to the team. The Homecoming game against North Central will be on Sept. 24. (Luke Miller)

“I tune everything out once I step onto the field. I mean if there is a big crowd, there is a big crowd. If there is a small crowd, it is a small crowd. It is not really that big of a deal—the 75 guys that are on the sidelines, that is 

all that matters,” Osborne said.

“It is always a great atmosphere at home, but to us there is not as much pressure just because it is another game, another Friday, another opponent,” he added. “We take it one week at a time and look at whatever opponent we are going to play and give it the best.”

Head Coach John Hebert said the Homecoming week celebration is exciting but it is more of a distraction than a motivation for the team.

Members of the varsity football team prepare to walk out of the tunnel onto the field for a game against Center Grove. Head Coach John Hebert said the team tries to play their best no matter the surroundings they are in. (Luke Miller)

“It is definitely a distraction, especially Friday of Homecoming week,” he said. “We are outside with the parade, being down here on the field, and it could be a little draining for (the players). I do not think that we have let that get in our way, but it worries me every year, just to be focused on who we are playing. We are always going to play somebody that is capable of beating us and you do not want to cap off all of those fun things with going out and not playing your best.”

Jackson Reece, linebacker and senior, said the practices leading up to the Homecoming game do not change because the team tries to view each game the same.

“There is a big emphasis on staying focused and locked in even though it is Homecoming week,” he said. “But other than that, we do the same thing and prepare the same. We watch films, we study the tape, we prepare the same way every day.”

Hebert said he enjoys the big crowd but he prepares the team to not let the crowd affect its gameplay.

“I think it is more exciting when there are more people. I think it is more fun for kids. But then you have to adjust because the next week it will not be like that, so you have to be at your best no matter what your surroundings are,” Hebert said.

Reece said, while the team does not let the crowd size affect their gameplay, the support from the students makes the games more exhilarating and lively.

“Every home game is a big deal to all of us and we go out there every week, every day, trying to show out for you guys (at CHS), so we appreciate the support,” Reece said.

Osborne said he also appreciates the support from the students, family and friends.

Zach Osborne (right), quarterback and senior, talks to teammate Lleyton Lukowski on the sideline. Osborne said players have grown much closer as the team plays more games together. (Olivia McKee)

“Obviously, the Homecoming game is a big game every single year. A lot of friends and family—they used to play at Carmel or are former players, former coaches, managers—they all come back and see this game. Stands are going to be packed. We love all the support that we can get,” Osborne said.

Hebert said he is excited

 to see this group of kids play at the Homecoming game this year because the team dynamic is strong.

“We have got several guys that are in that category of taking on new roles and every game is like piecing together those 88 pieces, those 88 different spots, and hopefully it makes the difference for you,” he said. “I would say across the board that this group has been so much fun so far that I am excited for all of them.”

Osborne said he also feels this year’s team works well together and new relationships are forming between the players.

“As a senior I feel like I have a bigger role in that situation of creating new bonds with players that I never thought I would,” he said. “But as a sophomore, I mean obviously in 2019 it was a different atmosphere, different team. Then as we grow and we develop more relationships with different teammates I feel like this team is much stronger and we have better friendships with different players on both sides of the ball. I feel like we are overall just closer together.”

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