#OwenStrong: How tragedy inspired a storybook season for Carroll Football

Published: Nov. 22, 2022 at 11:35 PM EST
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne’s NBC) - Goofball. Competitor. A great teammate. Those are just some of the many words teammates and coaches use to describe their late Carroll Charger quarterback, Owen Scheele.

In June, Carroll High School’s #13 passed away after his battle with leukemia.

His death sent a shockwave through the Carroll community and left a heavy mark on his teammates.

“We had a couple rough months as a team, kind of hard to move past it,” Carroll safety Jorge Valdez said.

But, moving into their upcoming season, his teammates said they knew, even though Owen wasn’t physically suiting up, he was still by their side every step of the way.

“Owen’s legacy will never leave Carroll High School,” Carroll quarterback Jimmy Sullivan said. “Everyone was around him in the offseason, obviously, and his competitive nature was just out of this world. It shows, we try to play with that fire burning he had, and every time we step on the field, Owen is in us.”

Every game this year, the team captains walked Owen’s #13 jersey on to the field for the pregame coin toss. Sullivan says that tribute to their friend inspires them to play harder.

“Seeing his number, it just, I think it pumps us up a lot knowing that Owen is still with us and walking out there,” Sullivan said.

This season, Carroll is undefeated. A perfect record.

Their number of wins? That special number 13.

Carroll players say that coincidence shows them Owen is still suiting up from above.

“Personally, I just feel like he talks to me sometimes,” Valdez said. “I mean, we feel his presence all the time. You see all the coincidences, all the thirteens around, all the stuff like that. Definitely a presence in the whole team, and me, a lot.”

Carroll will compete for the 6-A State Championship this Friday evening at Lucas Oil Stadium against 11-2 Center Grove.

Coach Doug Dinan says, win or lose, this is a season team members and staff will never forget.

“The outcome now is insignificant,” Dinan said. “We’re going to go down there and play hard. We’re going to go down there and compete for a state championship, but the road and the journey that the guys have been on is tremendous and we’re very proud.”

School officials say if you’re attending Friday’s game, to wear orange in honor of Owen. Those who can’t make the game are invited to line Carroll Road to Lima Road at 1 p.m. Friday as the team bus heads out for Indy.