Nov. 4, 2013
Senior offensive linemen reflect back on time at NorthwestBy David Boyce
This article appeared in the football gameday program on Nov. 2 against Washburn.
MARYVILLE, Mo. - When senior offensive lineman Cody Carlson runs onto the field at Bearcat Stadium for his last regular season home football game for Northwest Missouri State, he is not sure of the emotions that will well up inside him.
As a fifth-year senior, Carlson has been through plenty as he worked his way up from a bit of scholarship money and playing on the scout team to a starter at left guard.
“You really don’t know what kind of feeling will come over you when you are running out of the tunnel,” he said.
“I thought I had an idea how it was going to be running out of Arrowhead, but when those feelings do come over you, it is truly a special feeling.”
Carlson will share in the moment with fellow senior offensive linemen Jake Scarbo, Bryce Johnston and John Petroff.
Petroff is actually a sixth-year senior.
“It has been a blessing,” Petroff said. “Football and track had more than enough opportunities to let me go after being hurt so much. They have kept me on.
“I have had a chance to help win football games here and play a lot. I got my undergraduate degree, and I have done a lot of things academically and athletically. The football staff and players are a family. They have taken care of me.”
Before the 2:37 p.m. kickoff this afternoon in another important game for the Bearcats, many thoughts will run through the heads of the four offensive linemen.
They watched the program win a national championship and played a part in that success by working hard on the scout team.
It is an attitude that Carlson brought with him from Eudora High School.
“One of my true beliefs of a great football team is having great scout teams,” Carlson said. “In high school, I was on both sides of the spectrum. When we were good, we had a really good scout team. When we were bad, we didn’t. I tried to carry that here. I saw I still had an impact on Saturday by the way I played Tuesday through Thursday.”
All four of these offensive linemen brought that attitude with them. Only Petroff received any significant football scholarship money at the beginning.
Northwest head coach Adam Dorrel said the other three were walk-ons, although Carlson insists he received some money his first year.
“It was just a little bit, but it was a big help,” Carlson said.
Those words by Carlson exemplify the appreciative attitude that the four offensive linemen exude when they talk about their days at Northwest.
“I am very proud of them,” Dorrel said. “I think that is what made our program special over the years. Kids are willing to pay their dues. They don’t get discouraged. They get better. All those kids have done a good job of getting better each year and really contributing to our success.
“Their leadership is really good. I really appreciate how they handle our young kids. It sounds simple, but not all upperclassmen do that. I think they take a vested interest in our young kids and help them progress.”
Their words show that they have soaked up the knowledge that coaches and professors have passed on to them.
“We all have come a long ways since we got here,” Scarbo said. “We developed together. Our cohesion is really good. We communicate very well.
“It doesn’t just happen. It depends on the individual. Each one of us has a good attitude. We are all pushing towards the same goal. We all have the same goal in mind. We are trying to do the right thing.”
Johnston was the last one to join this group. He spent his first three years on the defensive line.
The offensive linemen welcomed him into the world of doing the gritty work upfront without much fanfare or media attention.
“They help me out with a lot of things,” Johnston said. “It has been good. They are a hard-working bunch.”
Skill position players such as senior quarterback Trevor Adams and senior running back Billy Creason definitely appreciate the work of the offensive line.
Adams and Creason give credit to their line in postgame interviews before they talk about a touchdown they scored.
The offensive linemen notice.
“Personally, it means a lot,” Scarbo said. “I love hearing that, absolutely. Even when they do not say it to the media, they tell us. It is special to hear that.
“At the end of the day, we recognize that we are surrounded by some of the best athletes in D II. We say we try to do our 1/11. That is kind of our focus when it comes to that.”
The 1/11 mantra is a saying that has been uttered through the years by Northwest football players. The seniors this year are saying it much more than previous senior classes.
The 2013 Bearcats, who are ranked No. 2 in Division II and are 8-0 overall and 7-0 in the MIAA, don’t have a superstar player in the mode of a Xavier Omon, Jake Soy or Chris Greisen.
The skill position players are almost as anonymous as the offensive line when it comes to talk about conference and national awards.
“I think this year guys are really grabbing it and believe in it more than they have in the past,” Dorrel said. You do your one job and everything will be OK.”
It is what the senior offensive linemen have been doing in the classroom and on the playing field since they arrived at Northwest.
Petroff has a degree in chemistry. Carlson will get a degree in physical education in the spring and then student-teach. Scarbo will graduate in May with degrees in marketing and business management. And Johnston is getting a degree in biology and psychology and plans to go to chiropractor school in the spring.
Carlson is right when he says you really don’t know the emotion you feel on senior day because so much has happened in the five or six years when you go from a teen-ager with dreams of the future to a young man eager to act on those dreams.
“It’s special, but it is kind of sad to see it all come to an end,” Petroff said. “You know your senior day is the last hurrah. Hopefully, we will have a bunch of home playoff games. The last regular season game is kind of capping off your career here.”
It is also a time for the senior class to celebrate with the fans.
“It is going to be special just knowing it is going to be the last one and knowing how great our fans are and how great they have treated not only our class, but all the classes before us, especially program guys who have been here all five years,” Scarbo said.
One thing Dorrel is certain about is these four senior offensive linemen got the most out of their years at Northwest and will spread the word about what the university provided them.
“It won’t surprise me in three or four years, a kid shows up and say I’m here because Jake Scarbo or Cody Carlson or Bryce Johnston or John Petroff said Northwest was a great experience and you should go there,” Dorrel said.
“I’m proud of them because they are going to graduate. I think all those guys will go forward and prosper. I think they will be Bearcats for the rest of their lives.
Once a Bearcat, always a Bearcat!
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