Switching on and off

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By: Min Qiao <[email protected]>

Despite a long and exhausting game on Friday night, Conner O’Banion, senior and defensive line-backer on the varsity football team,, still wakes up early the next day to watch the weekly footage of the previous night’s game. For O’Banion, football has been a part of him ever since he was a little kid.

“I like the feeling in the middle of the game when I am just really focused on winning and just really getting in there and hitting people,” O’Banion said. “So, I guess I am more of an aggressive player.”

Brian Spilbeler, defensive coach on the varsity football team and teacher here, said that for many players, playing football is a nice release for player to be aggressive and “let it all out.”

“When you get on the field you get to flip a switch. That just means that you get to become almost a different person when you are on the football field where you are really driven by emotion and hunger to get better and to win.” Spilbeler said. “At the same time, I would hope that our kids can distinguish between that setting and other settings. So, when you are on the field and off the field you really can be two different people.”

According to O’Banion, sometimes turning off that switch after a play can be one of the hardest parts of the game. With such a well-matched and competitve group of players, he feels that the pressure to win is always there, especially when he get into his “zone” during the game.

“We’ve been told from a young age to stop at the whistle,” O’Banion said “ It’s sometimes hard to just stop aftere being so aggressive and then just turning it off after the play, especially when there is a lot of trash talking involved.”

Off the field, O’ Banion is a lot mellower, layed-back and definitely “not as mean”.

Morgan Newton, senior and quarterback on the varsity football team here, does not really consider himself a very aggressive player. In fact, Newton said that he would rather just take what the oppenents give him instead of asserting himself and try to force things. Outside of football, Newton said that he is pretty much the same person as the quarterback that is on the field.

“With the leadership role that was passed to me this year, I try to be productive with what I say and set a good example,” Newton said. “Off the field, it’s much of the same. I just try to help whenever possible and lead by example.”

As Spilbeler said, the football team here consists of players who are competitve and good sports at the same time. Players here are usually respectful to their opponent and generally try not to do anything that would reflect poorly on themselves or their team.
Carmel in general has the students that understand the importance of being a good sport.

“A lot of (the good sportsmanship) just comes from the way they were raised. I think a lot of our football players were raised with the understanding that you treat others around you the way that you would like to be treated,” Spilbeler said “But, at the same time it is a very physcial sport and there’s a lot of contact and a lot of emotions involved. There are some times when emotions run high and you just try to tell them that you have to understand that as fired up as you get, everything that you do has consequences and you have to be ready to own up to those consequences.”

With the Homecoming game coming up tommorrow and the dance on Saturday, the hype is now greater then ever. For many fans, this is one of the biggest events of the year and the exicitement in the air is almost tangible.

“All of the excitement is a great thing for (players) to have and it’s great for the kids to be able to come out and experience that.” Spilbeler said. “But, at the same time, we have to understand that that’s all for the fan and the crowd. It is not for us. We always try to tell our kids ‘You still have to do your job.’ If we think about anything else, then we won’t be able to focus on our task.”

O’Banion, who enjoys the excitement thats precedes Homecoming, said it is always hard to concentrate on the game as the dance approaches.

“ This year it’s going to be a bit different because we are playing a tougher opponents,” said O’Banion, “It’s easier to stay focused when you are playing Warren Central, a team that has won four state champions in a row.”