Linebacker stays busy with farming chores

Tim May
tmay@dispatch.com

Hard work has always been part of Cade Stover’s day.

And working aggressively to become a better football player? The farmer’s son does that, too.

“But me going to football workouts, it’s not a chore,” said the Lexington High School senior linebacker, a commitment to the 2019 Ohio State recruiting class. “It’s a blessing, it’s a pleasure to go and be with my teammates and my coaches. I go and work just as hard as I do here on the farm.”

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He and his family raise about 150 Black Angus cattle on a 120-acre spread near Johnsville. They farm another 280 acres on leases with nearby farms, raising hay on about 100 and using the others to rotate crops of corn, which they use in a feed mix for their cattle, and soybeans, which they sell to market.

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That also means Stover has been driving tractors “since I could touch the pedals, about 4 or 5 years old,” he said. “There’s nothing better than driving a tractor, sitting up on top of everything else, looking down and knowing you’re getting something done while you’re doing it. Driving big equipment, that’s my favorite thing to do.”

And not just any old tractors, but primarily Case IH.

“I’ve just grown up red,” Stover said, referring to the primary color of that brand and laughing since he has pledged to the scarlet and gray.

What he’s always been committed to, though, is a work ethic fostered by his father, who runs a construction company and the farm.

“He wakes up at 4:45 every morning (to put some chores in before heading to work) and he gets home at 7 every night,” Stover said. “That’s why, when you think you’re doing all you can, there’s always something more you can do.

“I’ve always lived by that, and when I get to Ohio State, I think it’s going to show. I have so much pleasure in playing football. And while a lot of people look at it as their job, not me. I do it because I love it.”

Headed into Friday night, Lexington had lost its first two games, though the 6-foot-5, 230-pound Stover had 29 tackles in game one and 18 in the other while also playing some on offense. Two-way play is nothing like a long summer’s day on the farm.

A typical schedule this year, for example, had him starting just after 6 a.m. He would grind a feed mix for the steers, bucket-feed the heifers, “then if we had hay down to do that day I was going to go cut it, rake it or bale it. I’d eat some lunch, go lift for football, then come home and pick up all the bales.”

If there was slack on the schedule, he’d volunteer to help another farmer in the area.

“One of my most legendary days came this summer when one of our neighbors, who farms 5,000 acres, had straw to bale and put up, and called me and said, ‘Hey, we need somebody to work the wagons,’ “ Stover said. “I said I could do it, but I didn’t know what I was really getting into. I’m used to loading hay, and with straw being a little lighter, I figured I’d be OK.”

But by the end he had helped the group put up 1,200 bales, a dawn-to-dusk exercise.

“That was definitely the biggest day I’ve ever had,” Stover said.

tmay@dispatch.com

@TIM_MAYsports