now we rise to thee,
loyal sons and daughters,
bound in unity.
Thy colors lead us,
both the silver and the blue,
guided ever by the light,
to thee we’ll be true.”
The Midview students stand, arm-in-arm, and sway as the band plays the music to the school’s alma mater. The players hold their helmets high above their heads, thrusting them into the air during the final verse to accentuate the words.
Just moments before, the student body chanted, “Mr. Albright, Mr. Albright” until the coach and freshman biology teacher gave them a small wave of acknowledgement.
Eric Lauer, the Middies’ senior receiver and Kent State baseball recruit, stood there and took it all in. His team had just toppled Amherst on the road, and the far side of the stadium was alive.
This was why he wanted to play football his senior year, baseball scholarship or not. He couldn’t turn his back on high school football and his teammates.
“I’ve always liked football and wanted to come out for my senior year,” Lauer said.
“I wanted to finish with a bang and try to help get this team where it wants to be. We’ve had a goal to make it deep into the playoffs, so I wanted to help as much as I could.”
And help he has. Last week, in the Middies’ 37-27 upset victory of Elyria, he put on a record-setting show, catching eight passes for 298 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He gave the Middies a 7-0 lead by hauling in an 80-yard pass from junior quarterback Cody Calloway on Midview’s first play, then sealed the win with a 60-yard touchdown grab in the fourth quarter.
It reminded Lauer, who grew up best friends with Callaway, of days gone by.
“We were clicking that game,” he said. “It was like playing backyard football again.”
The Callaway-to-Lauer connection has worked for eight touchdowns this season and has Midview unbeaten at 3-0 heading into tonight’s home game against Rocky River.
The 6-foot-3 Lauer, however, is a self-proclaimed baseball player that happens to also play football. In the spring he made an oral commitment to take his 90-plus mph fastball to play for the Kentucky Wildcats. Things changed, however, after he started getting advice from people that have been in his situation.
Lauer decided he’d like to play collegiate baseball a little closer to home, and switched his commitment to the Golden Flashes.
“It was the fact that (Kent State’s) pitching coach is what I am looking for to get beyond college,” Lauer said. “(Mike) Birkbeck is the best in the nation and I had a lot of pro guys ask me why I wanted to go so far when I have the best in the business right in my backyard.”
No matter where he decided to go to college, Lauer knew he had work left to do on the football field.
“There is nothing like Friday night football, especially being a senior,” he said. “It’s kind of humbling knowing I am probably playing my last season of football ever, but I’m enjoying it while I can.”
Albright is happy Callaway’s top target wanted to take advantage of his last chance at football.
“Obviously, if you look at the stats and watch the film, he has been a huge plus for the program,” Albright said. “He and Cody just have that special connection. The nice thing is that not only has Eric been productive, but with teams now focusing on him it has opened up our other receivers and given our other receivers the opportunity to make an impact on our program as well.”
Albright has been at the helm of the Midview football program for over 30 seasons, and knows all about the allure of Friday nights. He is not surprised Lauer chose to put on the pads this year.
“You’re only in high school once so you should enjoy what’s going on and have fun,” Albright said. “Football, just because of the nature of the game and because of Friday night, that’s the thing to do. We’ve had some great baseball teams here and some great seasons, but it’s hard to beat Friday night in the fall. Hard to top that when you’re playing in front of four to five thousand people.”
Contact Mike Perry at 329-7135 or email@example.com.