NOBLESVILLE — Paul McGinnis wasn’t expecting it. He knew his son, Carter, would not be content playing football at a Division III school, and he knew Carter’s options playing Division I were likely limited to smaller schools or as a preferred walk-on.
But he also knew Carter loved football, which is why hearing his decision initially came as such a shock.
“I’ve put a lot of thought into it and I think I’m going to be done after this year,” said McGinnis, Guerin Catholic’s 6-0, 200-pound starting running back and team captain. “I want to put all my energy into this last senior season with my brothers and just finish this out the right way, and that’ll be it.”
Not what you might expect from one of the state’s top running backs, one who has barreled to 1,377 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns through eight games.
If things are ever going the wrong way for the Golden Eagles, third-year coach Tom Dilley knows the last person that needs a boost is McGinnis. He is the boost, that type of running back who “will continue to just pound away when things aren’t going well and has the confidence that things are eventually going to go.”
“We’ve all seen plenty of guys with talent that don’t work hard and are all about themselves and it doesn’t work,” Dilley said. “And he’s not that way. He’s a really hard worker and obviously very talented. And he’s concerned about his teammates more than himself.”
McGinnis has always been that way with football. When he heard area leagues were going to start offering tackle to second and third graders, McGinnis insisted on playing up as a first grader.
McGinnis simply calls it “passion” for the sport, and perhaps that’s the perfect word to describe someone who never once lost his resolve, even when his body refused to cooperate. Injuries saw to it that McGinnis would never play a full high school season, like the dislocated left shoulder that kept him out of Guerin’s 60-8 win over Broad Ripple.
But after each game he missed, Dilley said McGinnis would “live” in the training room and do everything possible to make it back to the field, sometimes ahead of schedule.
“Nothing makes me a feel like football does,” McGinnis said.
So, why stop? The answer is Guerin football.
McGinnis and his teammates have come close in his four years. Twice the Golden Eagles reached — and lost — the Class 3A regional championship. A single touchdown separated them from Bishop Chatard, last year’s eventual state champions, in the sectional semifinals less than a month after they defeated the Trojans on homecoming for the first time in program history.
But close isn’t close enough for McGinnis. Not after all the memories Guerin football has given him. Not after all he and his teammates have gone through together.
So rather than think about what comes next, McGinnis shuts out the distraction. Football will end here, with Guerin, on a mission for a win during Thanksgiving weekend. And then it will be over, whatever the outcome.
“He’s looking to take this chance and finish with this team, with the goal of a state championship, and ride off into the sunset, if you will,” Paul McGinnis, also Guerin’s freshman coach, said with a laugh.
No, McGinnis might not have expected his son’s playing career to end at Guerin, but it doesn’t bother him. He’s happy for Carter, knowing all of the hard work he and his teammates have poured into this season will culminate over the next six weeks — beginning Friday night when Guerin (7-2) faces Tri-West (8-1) in the first round of sectionals.
“It’s the right way for him to go,” he said. “Do what you can do here and leave it all out on the field. And when it’s done, it’s done.”
Follow IndyStar reporter Jordan J. Wilson on Twitter: @Wilsonable07. Email him at email@example.com.