Prep Football

Steady Catherman guided Wheeler through its early struggles

2012-10-17T18:00:00Z 2012-10-18T04:50:05Z Steady Catherman guided Wheeler through its early strugglesJim Peters jim.peters@nwi.com, (219) 548-4363 nwitimes.com
October 17, 2012 6:00 pm  • 

Whether he's donning the mouse head for his job at Chuck E. Cheese's or his helmet at Wheeler, Kyle Catherman adheres to the same philosophy.

"If one of the coaches gives me a job to do, I do it to my fullest, to execute what they want," Catherman said. "If my boss tells me to do something, I do it without hesitation. That's how I've been raised by my parents (Tina and Tim), to show respect to everyone. I have a lot of respect for them."

It's no wonder one of the first things Tony Klimczak did in the offseason after he became head coach was to name his three-year, two-way starting lineman one of his two captains.

"He's a good leader, someone who's always there, always working hard," Klimczak said. "It's essential to have good leaders on the team all the time. You need your team leader to support you, to go to bat for you, especially when you're losing, and Kyle's someone I can definitely depend on. He's always a guy to remind people to stick with it and keep fighting to get better. He's been our most consistent person all year."

Being a captain was Catherman's first and biggest goal for his senior season. Klimczak's praise, along with that role, are honors he doesn't take lightly.

"It shows they know how much I've strived, how hard I've worked," Catherman said.

Consistency seems to go with his even-keel demeanor, a quality that was invaluable early in the season as Wheeler started off an uncharacteristic 0-3.

"After the first game, I was upset. That was very hard," Catherman said. "The next game, we lost again, but I could see us gradually getting better. The third week, I know we lost, but I thought we found our groove, and ever since, we've really found our groove. We're really working well together."

The Bearcats bounced back to reel off six straight wins and take a 6-3 record into the postseason. If not for the mental massaging of Wheeler's resident Dr. Phil, who knows if it would've played out the same.

"I'm kinda the therapist for the team," said Catherman, who prefers Cartoon Network to ESPN. "I don't really show leadership with words. I show it through actions. A few guys hung their heads. I'd pull them aside, ask them what was wrong, give them advice, try to keep them staying positive. You can't dwell on the past, anything that went wrong. You have to look forward to the next play, the next day, the next game."

Fourth on the team's strength leader board, Catherman has been an anchor on the field as well as off. The Bearcats' running game often follows his lead over right guard and he's put up big numbers (54 tackles, eight for loss, three sacks, three fumble recoveries) from his defensive end spot.

"He gets good penetration," Klimczak said. "He's not our No. 1 sack guy, but he's the backfield quite a bit. He's a run stuffer."

Like last year, Catherman and the Bearcats open sectional play against Andrean.

Like last year, they are an underdog, and we all know what happened.

"Everyone's really excited," Catherman said. "Absolutely, they're a big favorite. But we're not going to stereotype any team. It's just another team and just another game. We're just going to go at it. May the better team win."

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