TERRE HAUTE —
All through this high school football season, as Ricky Brookins surpassed some of Anthony Thompson’s school records and Kai Stratten added some brilliant games of his own, both Terre Haute North running backs were consistent in their postgame comments.
They couldn’t have done it, both said, without their offensive linemen.
They’ll get no arguments from Forrest Lowery.
“Ricky and Kai are two outstanding backs,” Lowery said this week, “but I don’t think they could do what they do without the line coming together.”
Bringing the big people and their equally large personalities together is the job of Lowery, the line’s centerpiece and one of the Patriot co-captains.
“We’re all a bunch of brothers,” Lowery said this week. “We know what everbody’s thinking, we communicate well, and we move people and open holes for the running backs.”
The senior center is currently flanked on the left side by tackle Lucas Comer (6-foot-5, 250) and guard Bryce Woodason (6-2, 265), on the right by tackle Gerrit TenBrink (6-3, 275) and guard Ashaun Miller (6-0, 260). Senior Austin Vermillion (6-5, 315) has missed time with injury, but thanks to others like Seth Boland (6-0, 250) and Mikey Hettinger (6-1, 255) the blockers remain strong and deep.
“It helps a lot to have people behind people,” Lowery explained.
Lowery provides leadership to the group even though he’s one of its smallest members — although it’s probably more accurate to say he’s one of its shortest. If the 5-9, 255-pounder is a few inches in height shy of a Division I position, he’s well appreciated where he is now.
“He’s as thick as you need to be [to play college football], and he’s definitely as strong as you need to be,” coach Chris Barrett said of Lowery this week. “He’s also very smart. He makes all of our line calls, he has very good technique, and he’s very strong.”
If there’s a word that seems to be recurring in the coach’s evaluation of Lowery, it’s not an accident.
“We have a lot of kids who are committed,” Barrett continued, “but none of them is more committed to strength and conditioning than [Lowery] is. He’s always where he needs to be for us [for offseason workouts], and then he does extra. He’s been to camps every summer … he’s done all he can to improve himself as a player.”
“I think I’m doing pretty good,” Lowery said this week when asked about his play this season. “We’re getting a lot of nice combo blocks in the middle. Even if I’m smaller [than some other centers], there’s no dropoff.”
As the Patriots prepare for tonight’s Class 5A Sectional 16 championship game against Evansville North, they are coming off the best regular season in school history and hoping for more.
Lowery and the senior class have been used to success, enjoying that from their youth football years all the way through North’s best-ever Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference freshman campaign.
“Growing up with your guys pushes us that much more,” Lowery said. “We push through injuries and work for the people around us.”
Lowery’s leadership in that regard is appreciated, his coach said.
“He has the respect of all his teammates and coaches,” Barrett emphasized. “They all see what he’s done, and that there are no shortcuts.”
Lowery himself is looking forward to as many more weeks of football as possible. “We [linemen] might not always be getting the credit, but we’re OK with that,” he concluded.