TERRE HAUTE —
When Tyler Seibert opened his high school football season with a performance for the ages a month ago, it proved to be a mixed blessing for him and for his Terre Haute South team.
The senior receiver had five catches for 173 yards — he had 134 receiving yards before the end of the first quarter — and also ran five times for 61 yards. He had three quick touchdowns to help the Braves get an early lead, then applied the coup de grace with another touchdown in the final two minutes after host Indian Creek had made the game close.
There are no secrets in high school football anymore, however. Once that performance was caught on film, Seibert became a marked man. Accomodations have been made in opposing secondaries, and when Seibert goes in motion the other team’s defense is aware a jet sweep may be coming.
“[Other teams] are usually cheating a safety over on my side,” said Seibert — still averaging more than 20 yards per reception and almost nine yards per carry — this week.
“I try not to get frustrated,” he added.
“He’s definitely our main offensive weapon,” coach Mark Raetz of the Braves added, “and even more so, given the injuries we’ve had at receiver and the inexperience we have at running back.”
Time is helping the latter situation, however, and the first half of the problem is expected to be partially fixed this week by the return to the lineup of junior receiver Jacob Johnson. Johnson and tough-luck Logan Steward were injured on the same first-quarter play during the second game of this season — the second season in a row Steward was lost for the year in the North-South game — and Seibert has rarely seen single coverage since.
“It should help to get Jacob back to help alleviate that,” Raetz said.
With Johnson back to join Jeremy Patterson, tight end Nic Keller and two receivers borrowed from the defensive unit, Jonathan Weakley and Dillon Bell, it might not be long before Seibert again teams with quarterback Danny Etling for some highlight-reel plays — or draws defenders away so some of those other receivers can make some.
“Having a quarterback like Danny is always good [for a receiver],” Seibert said, “and now we’ve got Jacob back to free me from some of that attention.
“We’ve had some bumps in the road, but one of my favorite sayings is ‘A man is judged by the way he handles adversity.’ ”
Seibert had some adversity of his own to work through last football season, and the way he’s done so has impressed his coach.
“His work has put him in the position to be the player he is,” Raetz said. “It started in the winter, when he was preparing for track. He had an outstanding track season [including winning the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference 400-meter run], and that carried over into the summer and this year. His teammates recognized that too, which showed by him being voted one of our team’s captains.”
As a team leader, Seibert is ready for the remainder of the MIC schedule, starting with today’s 7 p.m. game at Center Grove.
“We’re ready to start the second half of the season,” he said, “pick things up and get on the right track … I don’t think we’ve played to our full potential either, and this week could be the week to get it started.”
Individually, Seibert is hoping the things he’s learned from the constant defensive attention will help him continue to improve as a player.
“I could always play better [than I have so far], of course,” he said. “There are a couple things I could have done better. A lot of people have been banged up, so I really have to step up my game.”