Senior Calvert plans to leave it all on the fieldSeptember 19, 2019
BY JONATHAN SAXON
HUNTINGBURG — Cole Calvert still remembers what it felt like to step on the football field as a wide-eyed freshman looking to join the Southridge Raiders football team. One of his first thoughts: Man, these boys are huge.
“The first summer practice, we didn’t have a clue what to do,” he said. “We were honestly nervous because we were like ‘These guys are big.’ We’re still 14 years old against 18-year-olds out there in practice, just getting destroyed. It was fun. [We] just kept working. Finally, we all got our shot, and here we are now as seniors.”
Head coach Scott Buening said the young up-and-comer didn’t immediately jump out at him the first time he started working out with the team, but he saw Calvert possessed good foundational tools that had a lot of potential for success.
“He was a decent-sized kid. I wouldn’t say he was a total standout, but he was a good player,” Buening recalled. “He had a nice year with the freshman team.”
The breakout moment for Calvert was during his sophomore year. One of the linebackers ahead of him on the depth chart happened to miss practice, and he stepped into the opening to show the coaches what he could do.
“The first week of practice, a kid in a spot didn’t show up the day before, so I was running his position that day,” he said. “He was back the next day. They put him back there, but he messed up, and they put me back in. From there on, I stayed there.”
Buening says he’s not quick to just throw young guys into the lineup just because of flashes of ability here and there. He needs a high-level of confidence in players he deems worthy to see the field. But despite his initial trepidation, Buening inserted Calvert into the starting linebacking corps, and he proceeded to lead a group that became a critical unit for the Raiders during their state championship run in 2017.
“We had some really good players,” Buening said. “The coaches talked about him like ‘Maybe we could give him a look there,’ and those kind of things. I’m really not quick to anoint kids; you've got to see it on the field. I wasn’t hesitant, but wasn’t as quick to pull the trigger. Then all he does is break our single-season tackling record as a sophomore.”
Buening can’t help but gush about his experience watching Calvert grow since that practice where he stepped into his starting role. He says Calvert brings a lot of talent and ability mixed with the right intangibles that make him a force at the linebacker and fullback positions for the Raiders.
“He has so many things you cannot coach,” Buening said. “He’s very instinctual; he has a nose for the ball. He went into his junior year and we needed an athletic kid to play that fullback position for us, and he picked it up so fast. He’s 6’1”, 190-something pounds and he’s farm-strong. To have the athletic ability and the instincts, he’s off the charts in that respect.”
Calvert has enjoyed growing in his role, not only as a starter, but also as a leader for the football team. He believes it all starts with him just doing his job to the best of his ability. But he also has learned there are times he might need to step in and offer some vocal motivation to keep his teammates rallied and focused.
“Everytime we get back in the huddle, you've just got to tell the guys it’s going to be all right, even if we just lost five yards,” he said. “We’ll snap it again. We’ll be all right.”
However, there is another factor that motivates him to be the best he can be. Calvert has a personal mission whenever he takes the field: Don’t let his man or assignment get the better of him in front of his friends and family. He’s a competitor through and through, and it just wouldn’t sit right for him to know he was beaten without trying to make it right.
“On both sides of the ball, I tell myself I’m not letting this guy stop me,” he said. “He might embarrass me that play, but my mentality is I’m not going to let you do that to me. My goal is to embarrass and outwork you on a certain play. It may not happen, but that’s how I go out every time.”
It’s a consistent mentality that he has kept all four years of football, and it’s why Buening believes Calvert embodies what it means to represent Southridge and the greater Huntingburg community.
“He wants to do the right thing; he wants to help out teammates,” the coach said. “He’s got God-given abilities, but he doesn’t walk around and puff his chest up. When Cole talks, you listen, and it’s not because he makes you. It’s just what you do because of the respect that our players and coaching staff have for him as a young man. You don’t have those kids very often that have all those packages.”
Calvert wants his senior season to end with a bang, and, so far, he’s rushed for 491 yards and four touchdowns, caught two passes for 69 yards and a score, and has 36 tackles (15 solo) in four games. There’s still plenty of football left to be played, but he hopes to be remembered as a player who left it all on the field after he laces up his cleats for the last time.
“I'd like to be remembered as someone who was playing for my team, the fans and the students in the student section,” he said. “Just a hard-nosed guy and a good teammate.”
“He's going to go down as a champion,” Buening added. “He’s going to go down as a winner, and we don’t use that word lightly around here.”
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