STEVE HANLON: What it means to be No. 1

2013-10-24T17:00:00Z 2014-06-24T18:08:24Z STEVE HANLON: What it means to be No. 1Steve Hanlon Prep Beat nwitimes.com
October 24, 2013 5:00 pm  • 

Back in the day, Roz Howell used to love to talk about Hobart football. The wife of Hall of Fame coach Don Howell didn't talk much about the 19 consecutive sectional titles, the 11 trips to Indianapolis or the four state championships the Brickies won.

Sure, she loved all of that. But she was more proud of the young men in her community who were plucked away from the mean streets and saved from themselves or their surroundings by a high school football game.

That list was longer than all the all-state names.

Wearing purple and gold took good kids and made them even better. That's where Drey Devereaux comes in. The senior Brickie stands 5-foot-7 and is a buck 60 on the roster.

But he wears No. 1 for a reason. And it isn't just about football.

Devereaux has become a mentor and hero to several young boys in Hobart. He hasn't let the shine of stardom blind his eyes. One lad, 7, has a collage of photos and autographs in his room.

Devereaux took him to Dairy Queen, played catch with him after practice and another time in his friend's subdivision.

Coach Ryan Turley, who played for Howell, started a program called The Junior Brickies Backers. The youngsters wait for the varsity to run out on the field Friday nights and the youngsters stand there excitedly getting high fives from their heroes.

Sounds like 1950, doesn't it?

Tonight, the boys will be lined up as Hobart takes on South Bend St. Joseph in the Class 4A Sectional 18 opener.

"My brother (Derek) played at Michigan City (2008) and I was the ball boy there," Devereaux said. "I was like these boys then. I looked up to the players on varsity. I wanted to be like them. I want to be a positive influence to them. I want them to do the right things as they grow up."

Wow. Why do we keep score again?

There was another young Pop Warner boy who was small. Very small. He was getting roughed up by the bigger boys. He, too, came to a practice to talk to No. 1.

Devereaux got injured and was on a golf cart when he saw the boy. He told the trainer to pull over.

"I told him to use everything he has," Devereaux said. "I wanted to give him words of encouragement. I didn't want him to quit."

The Hobart ball boys, like Cody Johnston, are also crazy about these Brickies. The third-grader got a specially made No. 1 jersey made so he could wear it Friday nights.

Devereaux has over 1,500 all-purpose yards. The slot receiver and defensive back also returns punts and kicks and holds for all Hobart kicks. He never comes off the field.

"This is something I believe in," Turley said. "I was fortunate enough to grow up in Hobart. The players I looked up to used to give me a high five. It meant the world to me. It's important.

"In our society today there is so much negativity. Everywhere you look. I tell our guys they have to be a positive out there. I'm very proud of what these seniors, especially, have done along these lines."

Last spring he broke a 20-year Hobart baseball record for batting average (.453). In football, he's being recruited by Northern Illinois, Indiana State and West Point.

This kid is the real deal, on and off the field.

"I want to be a positive role model to these kids," Devereaux said. "They look up to me. I need to do the right thing."

Is this 1950? And why do we keep score in these games?

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at steve.hanlon@nwi.com.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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