Carmel High School football coach Kevin Wright didn’t know how prophetic his speech prior to the semistate game with Penn would be.
“We talked about dealing with adversity and how football prepares you for that,” Wright said. “You are going to get knocked down and you’ve got to get back up.”
Wright said it might be a cliche, but it so often rings true.
That Nov. 15 game was stopped for about 30 minutes when referee Joe Calderazzo collapsed in the first half. The team physician performed CPR on the referee to save his life, according to athletic director Jim Inskeep. He was then taken to the hospital for heart surgery and is expected to make a full recovery.
In the fourth quarter, Carmel junior running back Shakir Paschall’s father, Eric, was rushed to the hospital after he suffered a heart problem in the stands. Eric Paschall, 40, died at the hospital. The players and coaches didn’t find about Paschall being stricken until after the semistate victory.
“Shakir has told me, ‘He passed away doing what he love to do, watching me play football and I always have that,’ ” Wright said.
Shakir, the Greyhounds’ leading rusher with 964 yards, is one of several children still living at home. Paschall had 12 children.
“Shakir is a very mature kid,” said Wright, whose team plays Warren Central at 7 p.m. Saturday in Class 6A state final at Lucas Oil Stadium. “He doesn’t say a lot but he has a million-dollar smile.
“Shakir has said several times, ‘I have to be the man of the house, and I have to help my mom pay the bills.’ “
Wright had known the elder Paschall, a welder, for about 13 years. He had been a coach on Wright’s Warren Central staff in 2003, and Shakir served as a ball kid.
A memorial service was attended by the entire football team a week ago. The funeral was held in Fort Wayne on Saturday. Wright said the heartbreaking situation made him glad the team had a bye week before the state final.
Shakir practiced once last week.
“Football is a great outlet for him and all of us,” Wright said.
Wright said he has been touched by so many football coaches reaching out to offer support. Westfield coach Jake Gilbert arranged a collection for donations at Friday’s semistate game. Wright said Colts owner Jim Irsay helped with funeral expenses. Carmel football parents and alumni have pitched in with donations and support.
“We want to make sure they can grieve and move on with life without having to worry about next money to pay utilities and the rent,” Wright said.
Donations can be made the New Life Worship Center, 7860 Lafayette Road, Indianapolis, 46278. The phone number is (317) 297-5800 and website is newlifeindy.org. Donors may mail a payment, call in a credit card number or donate online. It should be specified that donations are to go to Eric Paschall Funeral or Fund.
State’s top soccer players
Avon senior defender Noah Zorniger, who helped lead his Orioles to the state championship game before losing to Crown Point, was named the Indiana Soccer Coaches Association Boys Player of the Year. Zorniger contributed two goals and eight assists this season.
“What an awesome and deserving honor for Noah,” Avon coach Phil Schmidt said. “He truly has been the leader of our pack, and I couldn’t be more proud.”
Zorniger, who became a starter midway through his freshman year, has committed to play for the University of Indianapolis.
Hamilton Southeastern senior defender Kirsten Timmer was named the ISCA Girls Player of the Year. Timmer, who has signed with Marquette, had 10 goals and 17 assists as a four-year starter.
“Kirsten has been a true pleasure to coach the past four years,” Hamilton Southeastern coach Greg Davidson said. “As a defender she has proven to be one of the top in the state the past few years and I love that a defender got the ultimate prize of Player of the Year when typically it goes to those with stats as midfielders or forwards.”
Avon coach Eric Nance, whose team won the Class 2A state title, was named Girls Coach of the Year. Crown Point coach Mike Bazin won the boys honor.