Center Grove cornerback Tyler Watson makes his football reputation defending some of the state’s elite skill position players.
Already this season he’s faced the likes of David Bell, Warren Central’s outstanding junior receiver, and top-ranked Ben Davis’ vast assortment of ultra-quick athletes.
There will be others.
“We see incredible athletes every week, so you have to be tough both physically and mentally,” said Watson, a 5-foot-11, 180-pound senior. “I have to defend passes, but I have to defend a lot of runs, too.”
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On Friday, his list of responsibilities will include trying to slow North Central receivers Cole Maguire and Tre’von Elliott, who have 21 and 15 catches this season, respectively. The Panthers, at 3-1, are off to their best start since 2006.
No matter how such individual matchups play out, Watson says his relationship with God provides him an inner peace that ties everything he does together, be it academic, social, athletic or spiritual.
“The big thing is staying focused throughout all of them,” said Watson, who carries a 4.1 grade-point average and would like to do missionary work in the future. “At the end of the day, I’m working and playing for the Lord, and that gives me peace in all of it.”
The summers preceding Watson’s seventh-grade and sophomore school years played a significant role in shaping him as a person.
In 2012, Watson went on a mission trip to a low-income area around Cincinnati to help make repairs to the interior of a residence. In 2015 he attended a church conference in Michigan when he felt himself being called to do missionary work.
“Being able to see how I could serve people was really enjoyable,” he said. “But I didn’t decide I wanted to be a missionary until the summer before my sophomore year.”
Undecided on a college at this point, Watson plans to eventually major in nursing or exercise science.
Last season, Watson had 67 tackles for the defending Class 6A runner-up, and has 13 through four games this season. He runs track at Center Grove, competing in the 110-meter high hurdles and 300 intermediate hurdles, and has been a member of his school’s varsity show choir since his sophomore year.
“Tyler is one of the best role models in our school,” said Center Grove football coach Eric Moore. “His attention to detail and physical play has led him to be one of the captains on Friday nights.
“Not only is he a two-sport athlete, he is a major player for the Center Grove choir. His excellence in the classroom has led to him becoming a leader on the football field.”
Name: Tyler Watson
Family: Parents Stephen and Tracy; brother Austin, 14; sister Haley, 12
Favorite TV show: “Blue Bloods”
Favorite food: Lasagna
Favorite movie: “Good Will Hunting”
Favorite athlete: Tim Tebow
Favorite team: Notre Dame football