Reid Messer has not always gotten his kicks performing on the gridiron.
"I was a soccer player growing up and all I knew was that my brother (offensive lineman-linebacker Connor Messer) played (football)," Reid recalled. "I first started playing in the fifth grade and really knew nothing about football."
However, he proved to be a quick learner of the game.
"There are a few big influencers in my career and in no real order are my brother (2021 graduate), (quarterback-defensive back) Alex Stirn (2020 graduate), and (wide receiver-defensive back) Logan Koehne (2021 graduate)," explained Messer. "Alex was the one upperclassman that really took me under his wing and showed me the way. Logan helped me learn how to play safety and understand the game from a scouting and knowledge standpoint, and Connor taught me how to be tough in every aspect of life, including football."
All of this helpful advice has paid off tremendously for the 6-foot-1, 185-pound senior running back-defensive back as he helped lead North Decatur to its first (Class 1A) regional championship on November 11.
In the 29-14 triumph over No. 6 Sheridan, Reid carried the ball 31 times for 165 yards with a touchdown and caught two passes for 44 yards. Just for good measure, he added five tackles, along with an interception to preserve the monumental triumph.
The No. 3 Chargers (13-0) hope to continue their magical post-season run this Friday (November 18) when they host top-ranked and defending Class 1A state champion Indianapolis Lutheran (13-0) for the southern semistate title.
Next up for the survivor is a trip to Lucas Oil Stadium to battle No. 2 Adams Central (13-0) or No. 4 North Judson (12-1) for the state championship on Saturday, November 26.
The fact the Chargers are undefeated at this point in the season for the first time is no surprise to Messer, who has compiled 213 carries for 1,524 yards with 35 touchdowns, 33 receptions for 537 yards with four scores, and a punt return for another tally.
"We've (senior class) been together through anything you can imagine, and we've never failed to answer the challenge," said Messer, who has also recorded 69 total tackles with six for loss and five interceptions. "We've gone with no locker room, half of us living out of a construction trailer, the other half living out of a semi-trailer, and no one has ever complained or made it a big deal.
"Outside of football, we hang out four times a week as well. Monday nights, watching football at my house, Thursday nights again watching football at my house, and then Saturdays and Sundays hanging out. So, I think people can see why our bond is so strong and why our leadership is so profound."
After getting a chance to show off his skills as a freshman (32 rushes for 192 yards with a touchdown and six catches for 137 yards with two scores), he became a fixture in the backfield over the next two years (203 carries for 1,203 yards with 10 touchdowns and 21 receptions for 213 yards with two scores in 2020 and 267 rushes for 1,528 yards with 22 scores and 44 catches for 380 yards with three touchdowns last fall).
This production allowed Messer to gain some exposure around the state as well as a spot on the Indiana Football Digest's 2022 Prime Time 25.
"Getting the honor to represent our program on the (magazine) cover meant a lot," Reid recalled. "I was honored to be among some of the best players in the state, but more honored that people could look at the cover and see 'Chargers' on someone's jerseys and think 'I wonder where they are from' or 'I wonder if they're any good?'"
North Decatur coach Steve Stirn has had the chance to watch Reid mature and grow both on and off the field.
"He is a 'once in a lifetime' player for a coach," Coach Stirn said. "He is that one guy who is living proof of every motivational cliché that you have ever heard. On and off the field, he is an outstanding person and leader. I have never coached a young man who is more committed to doing his job. Best at everything that he does., he is a 'giver' to his team. He gives them a chance to win every game.
"He gives every player a living example of what is possible when you commit to something bigger than yourself. He is absolutely a great player, but I can't wait to see what type of an adult and citizen that he becomes."
Reid has the same admiration for his boss.
"Coach (Stirn) is a close number two behind my family when it comes to his influence on my life." Messer said. "There is no one else I could see as a second parent than him. I trust him with all of me not just in sports, but life too. As I came into the Charger family, growing closer to his son Alex, I found myself helping them cut wood out on their farm. I wouldn't say it was the best time, but it definitely allowed me to learn more about Coach and has definitely helped shape our relationship now.
"I know that my experience with Coach will lead to my success in life. Much of my already success, in life and football, is a testament to his influence and hard work."
Another person Reid has leaned on is senior quarterback Carson Parmer, who has completed 164-of-201 passes for 1,971 yards with 23 touchdowns.
"I consider Carson as my first friend," Messer said. "We've been best friends since I can remember. We know everything about each other and are always around each other outside of sports. Carson plays a huge role in our team's success. His ability to go to the line and read the defense to call the best play is invaluable. His football smarts are among some of the best I've played with, and his own film preparation is among the best as well."
Having been part of three sectional title clubs over four years, Reid realizes it has taken plenty of contributions along the way.
"Every single person has a role," Messer explained. "There is not one player that determines our success. We are built as a 'TEAM' and we win as a 'TEAM'. The success of one is the success of all and the failure of one is the failure of all. Carson Parmer, (wide receiver-defensive back) Evan Howell, (tight end-linebacker) James Evans, (two-way lineman) Jake Kinker, (tight end-defensive back) Josh Evans, (wide receiver-defensive back) Tyler Field, and I make up our senior class and it is this class that has led our team through this historic season keeping us in a steady line, not too high not too low. Without the consistency of our upperclassmen and the underclassmen putting their trust in us to lead them, we wouldn't be where we are now."
Being one win away from going to Indianapolis is something Messer and company are relishing.
"I think it goes without saying that this would mean the world to me, our team, and anyone in our community," Messer said. "Considering our football program has never won a regional and now we have the chance to host a semistate game at our place is crazy.
"One game away from playing in Lucas Oil is insane. I cannot put into words the feelings I would get from warming up and playing in Lucas Oil. It would truly be a dream come true."