Finding his own way a priority for Southridge kicker

Brittney Lohmiller/The Herald
Southridge senior Jeo Dubon, center, dances to music while working out with teammate Jeffrey Echeverria during football practice at the school in Huntingburg on Wednesday. Dubon and Echeverria are both kickers for the football team and members of the soccer team. "Scecina was the hardest game for a kicker," Dubon said of last year's semistate game. "I had everything going against me; it was cold, rainy and had strong wind...honestly I feel more confident this year. I've already been through tough games." The Raiders will play Western Boone in the Class 2A semistate game on Saturday.

By HENDRIX MAGLEY
hmagley@dcherald.com

Just a few short years ago, Southridge kicker Jeovany Dubon would have never pictured himself on a football field.

There’s a few reasons for that.

First, he had never even watched the sport (or knew that the position of kicker existed), and from the multitude of jobs he had – varying from landscaping to helping pick blueberries at a local farm – it almost seemed impossible for Dubon to even have time to consider adding another sport to his itinerary (he already was a member of the Raider soccer team).

But after a friendly competition with former kicker Jose Ariza, a recommendation from soccer coach Ryan Wallace and an offer to join the team from head football coach Scott Buening, just a few years later, Dubon has become a staple of the Southridge football program, not only because of his solid kickoffs and field goals, but also for his personality, his work ethic and his positive attitude.

“It’s a blessing. Never in my life would I have thought I’d be here,” Dubon, a Southridge senior, said. “People say you can always find peace in one of two things, and that’s at home or at church. But for me, there’s also a third thing — kicking.”

Dubon refers to kicking as sort of an “escape,” whether it be from a bad day at school or just a little break from the everyday school work and jobs he has.

While it’s not out of the norm for a high school student to have a job, it isn’t every day you see someone who’s worked at several jobs and has put in 45-hour work weeks, all while going to school.

But for Dubon? Well, busy weeks are all he knows — and what he prefers.

“People probably think it’s crazy that I worked 45 hours in a week, but it’s just one of those things where I don’t think it’s hard, because I’ve lived it,” Dubon said. “Just like the football team has lived hard work — hard work is all across our chest, and I’m so glad to say that, because I know not everyone can.”

Some of Dubon’s jobs included going to Oklahoma to work with his cousin’s roofing company a few summers ago. He’s also helped pick blueberries at a local farm in Duff, he’s helped with snow removal and salting, and now he’s even working for a landscaping company based in Santa Claus.

Dubon (23) celebrates with teammates after the Raiders won the Class 2A sectional championship against Mater Dei this year. (Herald file photo)

What’s made him want to do so much work?

“It’s just the main priority for me. I’m supporting myself and the things I have to buy, like my car and insurance, I don’t like to go up to my parents and not have enough money for gas or something,” Dubon said. “I feel like you just have to be able to find your own way, no matter what obstacle you have.”

Dubon often had to come to practice late during the summer due to working jobs that were far away from Southridge High School. But somehow, some way he would always try to find a way to practice.

“Sometimes I’d have to ride my bike all the way from places like Dubois Wood to Duff just to go pick blueberries to make some money, and I didn’t have the chance to go to practice. So after work, I’d come straight [to the field] and jump the fence to practice,” Dubon said. “I got kicked out a couple of times, and everyone kept telling me, ‘You’re crazy!’ But I just knew I had to do it.”

He’s also become a favorite among his teammates, the student section and the Southridge community as a whole. Whether it’s the “Go Jeo” chant the Raider students chant before every kickoff Dubon prepares to send deep into their opponent’s territory or the fact that after Southridge won the sectional championship two weeks ago, he was one of the first players hoisted up along with the trophy.

“The kids love him, our student section loves him and the team loves him,” Buening said. “He’s totally fearless, and the kids really respect that about him. They respect the heck out of him, and it says a lot, because we have a group that, if they believe you’re all in, then they’ll care about you. And for someone who does all the things that he does, they really respect him.”

The senior kicker has had plenty of experience over the past two seasons kicking in big games — whether it’s either one of the sectional championships against Evansville Mater Dei, the semistate game last year against Indianapolis Scecina or the Indiana High School Athletic Association Class 2A State Finals against Woodlan at Lucas Oil Stadium. He’ll have another big test Saturday as the Raiders prepare for their second straight semistate appearance, as they’ll travel to Thorntown to face Class 2A No. 1 Western Boone at 2 p.m. — a team that sports an undefeated record.

But these big games still feel surreal to Dubon. In fact, last year’s state championship doesn’t even seem like it actually happened to him.

Dubon, right, joined teammates in giving high fives to fans as the Raiders made their way through Huntingburg when returning to town after their 15-14 Class 2A state championship victory over Woodlan last year. (Herald file photo)

“Even though it’s been a year now, it still hasn’t really kicked in,” Dubon said. “I think it’s because once we get to tournament season, it’s like there’s a hunger for a bigger prize, you know? I always think of Chinese food because I love it, so it’s like I just ate one plate, but I still want another. Every time we advance [another round], I don’t want to thank only God, but I also want to thank all of the people around me who believe in me and continue to make me a better person.”

One of Dubon’s biggest supporters was his grandmother. She died during last year’s football season, but even though she’s no longer with him physically, Dubon always feels her right there with him when he’s on the field.

“Before I always kick [at Raider Field], I always look up at the stadium light, and the bottom row of the light makes me think of hope and I always saw my grandma — she’d always tell me I was like my dad, and to just keep on going,” Dubon said. “I just always look at the light, and it gave me a sense of hope, because it was like my grandma was always watching over me.”

A lot of what’s happened to Dubon during his four years at Southridge High School still seems surreal, whether it’s the state championship or the plethora of big kicks he’s made during his career.

But no matter what happens Saturday against Western Boone, he’s grateful for every opportunity he’s had.

“I thank coach (Buening) so much, because he didn’t only leave a legacy for me, but it’s something that I can leave to my brother and other family members coming up so they can play other sports as well,” Dubon said. “These experiences are something I’m never going to forget.”

Brittney Lohmiller/The Herald
One of Dubon’s biggest supporters was his grandmother. She died during last year’s football season, but even though she’s no longer with him physically, Dubon always feels her right there with him when he’s on the field.



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