Competition seemingly comes natural for Micah Hauser.
"I've had to compete against older kids my entire life," explained the Westfield High senior standout. "It's always about finding a way to out-compete, even when you're at a disadvantage.
"Coming from a family of 10, I've raced to the dinner table and occasionally witnessed a flip of the family Scrabble game board. I love heated competition all the time, which is why I don't ever want to come off the field."
This has been quite obvious over the course of the 2021 campaign for the 6-foot, 190-pound running back-defensive back.
In helping the Shamrocks reach the Class 6A state championship game for the second year in a row, Hauser has run the football 173 times for 1,252 yards with 23 touchdowns, caught 11 passes for 147 yards with two scores, and recorded 116 total tackles with three interceptions and a fumble recovery.
After settling for a state runner-up finish a year ago, Hauser hopes to close his high school career in style when No. 2 Westfield (12-1) takes on top-ranked and defending state champion Center Grove (13-0) on Saturday, November 27 in a rematch at Lucas Oil Stadium.
"There's no one else I would rather play," said Hauser, who suffered a 38-14 loss to the Trojans in last year's finale. "I want nothing but the best competition available, and (Center Grove) Coach (Eric) Moore and his program have proven to be just that. We have something to prove too. To be the best, you have to beat the best, so we are looking forward to the challenge."
Competing on both ends of the gridiron is uncommon for players in bigger programs, but Hauser is an exception to this theory by doing plenty of activities to prepare himself for all of the challenges.
"You mean besides lots of protein shakes, ibuprofen, and naps?" joked Hauser. "In all honesty, after the two surgeries immediately following last season, my first priority was obviously my health. Then, once I was back to 100 percent earlier this season, speed was my main focus. A mixture of explosive work with our strength coach, Tavio Henson, running hills every Saturday (a tradition we started in fifth grade with my dad and Coach Robo), and doing bounding and top end work with my older brother (Koby, a cadet and former football player at the United States Air Force Academy) caused my speed to drastically increase in a short time frame.
"This off-season a group of teammates and I planned workouts outside of our regular lifting schedule where we competed in every aspect of our workout and pushed each other to our full potential.
"However, it's not only about being physically and mentally tough. It's also about caring for my teammates. They are laying it all on the line for me, and I'm doing the same for them. I've had to compete against older kids my entire life. It's always about finding a way to out-compete, even when you're at a disadvantage."
Since getting a look at Hauser as a freshman, Westfield's Jake Gilbert believed he had potential to be a special performer.
"Micah is the best player I've ever coached," Gilbert said. "He can do anything on a football field. He runs, blocks, tackles, catches, and plays special teams. Micah is an elite competitor. We have seen him do so many amazing things that we aren't even surprised any more.
"Off the field, he has been a humble superstar. Micah always has time for others and is one of the guys in the locker room. He leads at the right moments and has great influence within our program. Micah has changed the trajectory of our program forever."
Hauser also has plenty of praise for his boss.
"Westfield isn't just a high school team. It is an entire program," explained Hauser. "Coach Gilbert started with us back in second grade and knew everyone by name, by grade, by position, and he still does to this day. Most people only see Coach Gilbert on the field, but I have had the pleasure of spending time with him off the field as well.
"He's as a good a man as he is a football coach, and that resonates through the entire coaching staff. He isn't concerned with a particular football team. He has created a football family."
Coach Moore also had some accolades by saying Hauser was "one of the most complete football players in the state of Indiana."
"I am beyond thankful for the kind words from someone who has coached a lot of high caliber players," Hauser said."When Coach Gilbert got to our program, I feel like he wanted to mirror the success Coach Moore has earned as he has built a football dynasty.
"However, we want our own dynasty in Westfield. The state game highlights great players, but I think this game, in particular, highlights the two best coaching staffs in Indiana."
Getting the opportunity to compete with his "football family" one final time is something Hauser is definitely looking forward to this coming Thanksgiving weekend.
"I have been playing with this group of guys for as long as I can remember." Hauser recalled. "We've always worked well together as a team and our chemistry has been there from the beginning. That chemistry is present both on and off the field. It would be impossible to mention all the accolades and talents of this team.
"What makes us unique is that we work better as a unit than as individuals. This group went undefeated our middle school years, then when I played varsity my freshman and sophomore years, my teammates went nearly undefeated (one loss) as freshmen and junior varsity Those same players are the foundation of the state runs we've had the past two years. The bottom line is I love these guys. It's a total team effort."
Before moving on to the next level, Hauser and company first have some unfinished business to attend to.
"We made a promise to our coach, Mark Robinson, back in fifth and sixth grade that we would win it all when we were seniors in high school," recalled Hauser, who has gotten some interest from Indiana State University. "He is no longer with us, but as a class, he served as a father figure for us, and we've been playing for him ever since.
"As much as it hurts, it also motivates us to play for other valuable members of our football family like Coach (Marc) Krieg and Jeannelle Rooney who both passed away this year. We want to win in their honor. To make them proud would mean the world to us. It is a privilege to play for them."
I imagine all of them will be cheering on Micah and the Shamrocks from up above on Saturday.