Deemer, Tigers put 1-9 ’18 season behind them

Garrett Deemer

HOWLAND — Garrett Deemer is asked to pinpoint the proudest moment of his high school football career, and the Howland senior doesn’t discuss the four sacks he recorded in one game or his all-conference offensive first-team honors.

Instead, Deemer reflects back to a play last year which never showed up in the box score. In fact, it was a play which was negated due to a penalty in a 28-6 loss to Niles.

“Our quarterback threw a pick deep into Niles territory,” Deemer recalls. “I was on the complete opposite side of the field. It would have been easy to give up on the play. The Niles kid is racing to the end zone, but I sprinted that way, made a tackle and forced a fumble.”

“The whole play was blown up by a penalty, but looking back, I was proud of the way I responded. Never quit. Never give up, because something good can always come out of hard work and effort. Today I can look back and use that play as a reminder that you can never give up on yourself or your teammates.”

Deemer’s determination, leadership skills and talent will be heavily relied-upon this year as Howland looks to rebound from a 1-9 campaign in 2018.

A year ago, Deemer earned his all-conference accolades as a fullback. He was also a standout as a defensive end.

This year, Deemer will switch roles on both sides of the ball. He is expected to line up as a tailback in the Tigers’ backfield and move to a linebacker on defense.

“I’m excited, I look forward to getting the touches but at the same time I loved playing fullback because I love making contact,” Deemer said. “Playing fullback gave me an incredible appreciation for the position. Guys rarely make the headlines but they are usually the ones making the plays happen.”

“Defensively, I was a linebacker prior to last year so I know the ins and outs. And, playing defense is my favorite place to be on a football field.”

Howland fans can thank second chances for their ability to watch Deemer perform on Friday nights. Deemer first played football as a very young child. He viewed it as a secondary sport to his first love, soccer.

“Football just didn’t click for me,” Deemer said. “Mentally, I just wasn’t into the game. I didn’t have that aggressive mindset and I was very content going back to just soccer.”

Several years later, a friend encouraged Deemer to give the sport a second chance, and the rest is history.

“It was like a whole different game for some reason,” Deemer said. “I loved the physical aspect of the game. I loved the camaraderie it created among teammates. I loved the challenge.”

Deemer’s role with the Tigers expanded greatly during his junior year. His role as a senior will reach new heights according to Howland coach Steve Boyle.

“Put aside what he does on Friday nights,” Boyle said. “What Garrett does every day at practice, at school, when he is out with his friends, that is what separates him from a lot of other players. His leadership skills, his ability to make others around him better players and better human beings is off the charts.”

Boyle has coached at all levels, including college. He insists that “there is only one Garrett Deemer.”

“He really is the All-American kid,” Boyle said. He is every coach’s dream. Every coach wishes they had eleven Garrett Deemers on their team. I don’t know how else to describe his value to the Howland program.”

“On the field, Garrett will play anywhere. He’s the type that seeks out contact. And, he’s like having a coach on the field.”

Deemer takes all of the praise in stride, insisting that he “is only doing what other seniors before me did.” He says that Howland’s below-par showing in 2018 has made the entire team anxious to put the past behind them.

Howland’s lone win last year was a week seven victory against Pittsburgh Perry Traditional Academy. Deemer noted that he and many of his senior teammates grew up in an era when the likes of De’Veon Smith made Howland a perennial playoff contender.

“After the season we had last year, it would have been easy to write off this year, to not be motivated to move forward,” Deemer said. “It was just the opposite. Our whole team was embarrassed and everyone vowed to not let (1-9) happen again. If we get tired on the practice field, we just ignore it and work harder. Some days you don’t feel like lifting, those are the days you have to go a few extra reps.”

“Last year was not fun. But the one positive from the season is that it didn’t break us. I think it made us better.”

Deemer and his teammates will get their first opportunity at redemption Thursday night when Howland travels to Bo Rein Stadium to open the season against Niles. The two schools have met on the gridiron continuously since 1975.

“We can’t wait to get it going, and what better way than to open the season than against your arch-rival,” Deemer said. “We know it’s going to be a huge challenge. But facing adversity is what we’re geared to do this year.”

Howland will travel to Hubbard in week two, then host Poland on Sept. 13 for what will be the first game played on its newly-installed turf.