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Ohio State football commit Reid Carrico leads Ironton into state finals

Joey Kaufman
Buckeye Xtra

Reid Carrico has the date memorized: Dec. 7, 2019.

It marked a moment of disappointment, the previous time he appeared in Ohio's Division V championship football game. On the cusp of leading Ironton High School to its first state title in three decades, the Tigers fell short in a 17-7 loss to Kirtland.

“It was just a shot to the heart,” Carrico said, “because we all felt like it was our time.”

Carrico has another chance this week. Ironton is set for a rematch with Kirtland in the state championship game Saturday afternoon. Kickoff is at 1:15 p.m. at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium in Massillon.

Ohio State recruit Reid Carrico (28) of Ironton has spent most of the past year hoping for another shot at Kirtland, which edged the Tigers in the Division V state championship. The two teams meet again on Saturday.

It will be his last game before he enrolls at Ohio State this winter, and a victory would mean the world to him, he said.

“If I go out a state champion, that’ll kind of boost me into the winter workouts at Ohio State,” Carrico said, “and it’d be huge because second chances don’t happen all the time, but we went out and earned ours.”

Carrico will be a linebacker for the Buckeyes, but he also lines up as a running back for Ironton.

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In last week’s 22-19 semifinal win over Roger Bacon, he ran 29 times for 187 yards and three touchdowns.

Each time Ironton crossed into the end zone it was because of Carrico, who has totaled 1,544 rushing yards and 25 touchdowns this fall, along with 50 tackles and four sacks, according to MaxPreps. He has been a critical presence in the Tigers’ run to the state final.

Playing both offense and defense, he rarely takes a snap off. Rare exceptions include field-goal attempts and extra-point tries.

“Whether it’s running back, linebacker, or just being a leader in the locker room, he’s pretty invaluable,” Ironton coach Trevon Pendleton said. “I mean, I definitely don’t think it’s something that you can you can gauge or something that you can value.”

Ironton workhouse Reid Carrico (28) fights for extra yardage in a Division V regional final against West Lafayette Ridgewood on Nov. 7.

Pendleton, who was a fullback at Michigan State and caught a touchdown pass in the Spartans’ upset of Ohio State in 2015, suspects Carrico also will make a similar impact for the Buckeyes.

“He is everything you could ask for, especially in a Big Ten football player,” Pendleton said. “He’s tough. He’s durable. He’s going to do everything he can to make the team better.”

Playing in his senior season in high school, Carrico has also prioritized his leadership in the locker room.

It was a trait he saw in the Tigers’ previous upperclassmen. He points to players such as Gage Salyers, who was the team’s quarterback last season and now a freshman defensive back at Youngstown State, as well as standout lineman Seth Fosson, as recent models for him.

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“It’s just kind of natural like you got to step up into a leadership role or everybody on the team is gonna falter,” Carrico said. “I’d say I’m much more vocal. I don’t let stupid stuff slide. I don’t like people missing practice, people missing film, people goofing off or talking during the film session. It’s just little things that as a junior or sophomore you might not say anything, but as a senior, you can’t let slide.”

Carrico showed his resolve even before this season, which was jeopardized by the coronavirus pandemic. When local gyms were closed in the spring, he found creative ways to work out and maintain his 6-foot-3, 225-pound frame.

“During quarantine, it was just crazy,” Carrico said. “You never know when the weight room’s gonna be open.”

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Concrete cinder blocks, found at home, were at times used as substitutes for dumbbell weights. Extra pushups and sit-ups were common, too.

He maintained the focus as last season’s defeat in the state final loomed large for him and the rest of his teammates.

“That’s been about the only thing on our minds,” Carrico said. “That’s pretty much what got me out of bed in the morning to go work out.”

jkaufman@dispatch.com

@joeyrkaufman