UNSUNG ATHLETES: Northridge’s Kaehr preps for Trine after strong high school career | Sports

The game of football has blessed Northridge graduate Evan Kaehr in countless ways since he started playing competitively during his elementary days in Middlebury.

His journey into becoming the 6’5″, 270-pound bulldozer of an offensive tackle he is now wasn’t necessarily an expectation when he first picked up the sport way back then.

“Believe it or not, I started out as a wide receiver,” Kaehr said. “I found out pretty quickly I wasn’t very good at catching the ball, so they moved me to lineman. I’ve been there ever sense.”

Although he stayed at the lineman position throughout the years heading into high school, his awaited growth spurt was lagging behind.

It wasn’t until midway through high school that his body started looking the part in the trenches.

“I didn’t grow into the position for a while,” Kaehr said. “My freshman year, I was probably 5’6”. My sophomore year, my coaches told me as soon as I grew into my body, I’d be just fine. That year is when my focus went completely to football. I stopped playing basketball and golf to focus strictly on football. That’s when I started putting on a whole bunch of weight, and I grew. That’s when I really started to love it.”

Since he’s evolved fully into the position he has excelled at over the last couple of seasons, Kaehr has embraced a role that is sometimes overlooked by the masses. When it comes to helping his team win, that’s where the true motivation unearths itself for the former Northridge standout.

“I love having that pressure on my shoulders,” Kaehr said. “If I have a game where no sacks happen, that feels really good on my part. I get that a lot of times, nobody notices, but I played a big part in helping the team win. A lineman’s job is so simple, yet it’s so important to the team’s success.”

STATE EXPERIENCE

Kaehr ended his high school football career with a coveted trip to the Class 4A state championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis last November.

Although the magical postseason run ended with a disappointing loss to Mount Vernon (Fortville), the entire experience was something Kaehr and his teammates could only imagine happening beforehand.

“In my mind, I really describe it as a dream come true,” Kaehr said. “As a little kid growing up, you always want to go play at Lucas Oil Stadium. You want to go play where the pros play. And not only that, you end up getting to play an extra six weeks of football because of it. I think all of us (on the team) would describe the experience as a dream.”

The first half of Northridge’s season was promising, but after an injury to starting quarterback Micah Hochstetler, the team’s campaign unraveled.

The Raiders lost four of his last five regular season games by an average of 36 points per contest.

A postseason run like the one that eventually materialized looked bleak, but some key offensive adjustments, along with a strong mindset from Kaehr and some of the other leaders on the team, helped the Raiders enter the 2021 postseason with some much-needed confidence.

“In my eyes, when all of the team’s captains sit down towards the end of the regular season, this is where we made our leadership count,” Kaehr said. “We just said that we needed to prove to the team, during that losing streak, that (the streak) doesn’t matter. When it came down to it, that Week 10 game was the one that mattered the most. From that point on, we all just stepped it up another level.”

With Tagg Gott under center, the offense was rejuvenated for a rematch with NorthWood during the first game of sectional play.

The team rushed for 240 yards and three touchdowns during the dominating 28-7 victory, and the offensive line played a huge role in setting the tone for that contest and in the week’s ahead.

“It all started with that NorthWood game, when we held possession for a majority of the game,” Kaehr said. “The offensive line really dominated. That was a huge boost for us going into the rest of the playoffs, because nobody really expected us to win that game after (NorthWood) beat us so badly earlier in the season.”

Kaehr was one of the more vocal leaders of the group, and it’s a role he has grown into from a young age as he watched his father, Dustin, lead by example.

“I really enjoy helping people,” Kaehr said. “I mostly got my leadership skills from my father. He works in leadership management, so I’ve learned a lot from him just by watching him from his own career. I’ve just built off of that.”

A COMMITMENT TO TRINE UNIVERSITY

Kaehr’s football career will continue past the high school ranks after he made his March commitment to Trine University official.

Kaehr fielded multiple offers to play collegiately during his recruiting process, but he based his decision on the overall atmosphere and sense of community that surrounds Trine’s football program.

“I really fell in love with the school from the beginning,” Kaehr said. “It’s not too far away, so I can come home if I need to for a weekend. I also fell in love with the accountability that surrounds the football program with the coaches and players. And just the overall atmosphere of the school, especially within the football program. The football community is so tight out there in Angola.”

Kaehr also based his decision to further his athletic career at Trine because of the people within the program.

One of those people is offensive line coach Eric Ravellette, who has been in contact with Kaehr over the past few seasons. The culture Ravellette has built within the o-line room and the way he treats those around him really caught Kaehr’s eye.

“I’ve talked to their offensive line coach since I was a sophomore,” Kaehr said. “And he’d even offer to give his advice on other schools. He’d tell me if I decided on a different route, this is a really good school to go to. That really stood out to me in the fact that he cared a lot about me personally enough to the point that he still cared about my future even if he couldn’t get me. … He just has a great relationship with all of his lineman, and that was a big thumbs up for me.”

DECIDING ON THE FUTURE

Trine University has a solid football program, but additionally, they have a very good exercise science program as well.

That combination of athletics and academics made the decision to enroll at Trine an easy one for Kaehr.

“I wanted to be a park ranger for the longest time,” Kaehr said. “And my mom, who is also an exercise science major and dietitian, she kind of showed me what I’d need to do to become a park ranger, and none of it seemed fun to me.

“I asked her what’s a solid degree that would allow me to help people workout? And she said exercise science. So right now, the plan is to do exercise science and maybe have a minor in nutrition as well. I’m hoping to do those things to eventually become a physical trainer.”

Having gradually become a gym junkie over the last few years, Kaehr says the weight room is one of his favorite places to decompress. He’ll work to combine the knowledge he’s gained with his pure love for improving his body in hopes of making it a career after he finishes college.

“It’s a passion of mine,” said Kaehr of the weight room. “It’s one of those things that I can do at the end of every day, and I’m just having a blast no matter how stressful the day may be.”

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