Friday’s showdown between Snider and Carroll was special for a lot of people, including Blitz.
For most of us, it had nothing to do with the game.
In front of a near-capacity crowd, Friday was supposed to be the highly-anticipated first home start in the career of Owen Scheele. Mr. “1-0 O” himself had already beaten Snider once, subbing for Jeff Becker last year in Week 2 in a one-point triumph.
It was the only taste of being QB1 that Scheele got as a junior. But this year, his senior campaign, was going to be it.
Scheele was a goofball. But damn, he was our goofball. He was Blitz’s goofball. At the day job for this bear, Scheele was in on a daily basis perfecting his craft. He would bring in Carroll teammates to throw to, putting just as much effort into a rep on a Tuesday in December as he would a Friday in the fall.
That smile? It was infectious. That pale skin? A constant butt of jokes. But he rolled with it. He gave as much as he got, more so even.
We lost Owen over the summer. A sudden and serious bout with leukemia took him away from all of us way, way too early.
The calling. The funeral. The remembrances. They were all hard. But Friday…Friday was REALLY hard.
On Friday, Carroll and Snider came together to honor Owen. To remember. It was all orange in the Carroll grandstand, shirts sold to remember him. Snider students reciprocated, wearing blue to recognize the fight against pediatric cancer.
Before the game, Owen’s father Jason joined the Carroll captains as they headed to midfield, dad in the middle holding his son’s No. 13. Jason was an honorary coach for the game, honored and humbled, but also surely wishing he was up in the stands taking in his son’s first home start.
In a class act, Snider’s team joined Carroll at midfield after the coin toss, where Panthers coach Kurt Tippmann presented a check to the Owen Scheele Memorial Fund. Quarterback Luke Haupert, who shared plenty of competition with Owen between high school ball in the fall and 7v7 in the winter and spring, switched numbers to No. 13 for the game to honor his late foe and friend.
Owen’s impact was scene throughout Friday’s game as well, one that Carroll won 28-21 in a decision that will go a long way towards deciding the SAC title. Quarterbacking the Chargers was sophomore Jimmy Sullivan, who looked up to Owen as a mentor during their time together at Optimum Performance Sports.
Sullivan made Owen proud in the victory, never making a bad read all night and protecting the football. In a game where a single turnover could have swung it the other way, the sophomore turned in a superb performance – 20-of-24 for 254 yards and three touchdowns. You can bet that some of the principles in which he worked on with Owen came in handy in the victory.
No one really knows how kids are going to handle a sudden and shocking loss of a teammate, a friend. It’s impossible to know how teenagers are going to handle any kind of adversity, let alone the death of a peer.
On Friday, we saw kids rise up and meet the challenge. While we lost Owen over two months ago now, for some it feels like yesterday. For others, including Blitz, we are still expecting him to come walking through the door with that goofy smile, or send that text that everyone rolls their eyes at but surely has Owen in stitches.
It was a great atmosphere in Huntertown. And a great game between two phenomenal opponents.
Together, it felt right.
But it also felt incomplete. Like something was missing.
Our No. 13.
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