Even at an early age, Luke Hansen knew he had the potential to be a special player.
"I started playing tackle football when I was about nine years old," recalled the Indianapolis Roncalli senior running back. "I was always pretty good, but nothing crazy."
The 6-foot, 205-pound standout's confidence has been at an all-time high to this point as he has carried the ball an amazing 272 times for a state-leading 2,117 yards with 25 touchdowns.
He also has eight receptions for 95 yards with two scores for the Royals (7-1), who just saw their 22-game regular season winning streak snapped on October 7 with a 24-23 loss to Cincinnati Elder (Ohio).
It wasn't because of a lack of effort from Hansen, who surpassed the 200-yard plateau for the seventh time in eight contests with 34 rushes for 221 yards and one score.
After being the second option behind graduated all-state quarterback Aidan Leffler, who played a big part in helping Roncalli to the 2020 Class 4A state championship, Hansen has made the most of his chance to be the main man now.
"Last year just added more motivation for me," recalled Hansen about losing to eventual state champion Mount Vernon (Fortville), 27-21, in the Class 4A regional final. "I think it has driven the whole team to want it more this season. Our whole team has been training since summer, so when the season came, we were all ready to go."
After not getting the chance to dress for the state championship game against Hobart as a sophomore because of Covid-19, Hansen showed he was worthy of getting considerable playing time last fall by accumulating 181 carries for 1,411 yards with 16 touchdowns and 22 catches for 233 yards with four scores.
This good fortune carried over into this year's season-opening 46-7 win at Southport on August 19 where he established a new school record with 335 yards on 26 carries, good for five touchdowns.
Then, on September 9 in a 38-17 triumph at Columbus North, he rolled up a program-best 373 total yards with five more scores.
"Luke is a fantastic team player," said first-year Roncalli head coach Eric Quintana. "He is very unselfish and does what is best for the team. He is a great leader by example on the field, weight room, and classroom. He has progressed well as a football player through the summer and gets better every day. We are proud of his accomplishments."
Obviously, being the guy opposing teams want to try and slow down has not been an issue for Hansen.
"Personally, I like it," explained Hansen. "It motivates me to be my best all the time."
He also realizes he couldn't do all this damage on his own.
Paving the way for his success have been an equally talented group of senior linemen in left tackle Trevor Lauck, who has committed to Iowa, left guard Brady Neu (Central Michigan), center Luke Skartvedt (Northern Illinois), right guard Luke Billerman, and right tackle Jackson McNeeley (Saint Francis, Indiana).
"It's amazing running behind these guys," Hansen stated. "I can't thank them enough for what they do."
A change at the top has not slowed down Hansen and company either with former Indianapolis Bishop Chatard assistant Quintana taking over for John Rodenberg as the Royals are averaging 31.1 points per game and allowing just 11.6 points per contest.
"We have all done a great job adjusting," Hansen said. He (Quintana) is a great coach that comes from another school that understands the importance of tradition."
Quintana likes the direction his club is going heading into next week's Class 4A Sectional 21 opener at Indianapolis Shortridge.
"Our football team is led by a tremendous group of seniors," said the former Plymouth High and University of Indianapolis lineman. "Their dedication to the success of the team is why we are successful. Our team philosophy is toughness and being fundamentally sound. We set a high standard for our guys, and we work on it every day. We are excited for the rest of the season and tournament."
Although Hansen has not made any plans where he will be competing next fall, he certainly has his priorities in order.
"Moving forward I just want to be the best person I can be on and off the field," Hansen said."
Before focusing making it back to the state finals at Lucas Oil Stadium, No. 2 Roncalli wants to close the regular season on a high note on Friday when they travel to No. 3 (Class 4A) East Central (7-1).