When Mitchel Gearhart puts on his pads to participate for the Ohio team in Friday nights Battle Against Cystic Fibrosis All-Star game, he will more than likely be the smallest player on the field.
Those in attendance that have seen the former Tiger play the past four years however know full well that there will not be anyone else on the field Friday that will play with a bigger heart than Gearhart.
Gearhart was listed at just 5-feet-5-inches tall and 155 pounds heading into his senior year at MHS, but was a mainstay on both sides of the ball for the 2011 Tigers.
Times file photo
Marietta High graduate and Ohio BACF all-star Mitchel Gearhart is very quick and an elusive ballcarrier.
"It's just all effort and all heart," said Gearhart, when asked how he is able to compete against kids with a size advantage. "It's just whoever wants it more."
Gearhart figures to see action on offense as a slot receiver and on defense as an outside linebacker for the Andy Schob-coached Ohio squad in Friday night's game.
The game will not only be one more chance for Gearhart to play at Don Drumm Stadium, but also a final chance to once again take the field with good friends and former teammates Justin Futrell and Dustin "Dedder" Baker.
"It's kind of a reunion I guess," said Gearhart. "We love playing together, we made the decision after the season was over that we would come out and play in this game and show what we've got."
Schob, who was Gearhart's head coach at Marietta his freshman and sophomore years, and coached against him the past two years as head coach at Warren High School will also use him as a punt returner Friday night.
After playing against many of the players that will serve as his teammates Friday night, Gearhart has enjoyed turning former foes into friends.
"You grow up hating these kids and then they bring everyone together and you realize they are good guys," said Gearhart. "We're all here for the same reason and they are my teammates now, so you've got to love them."
Gearhart plans to continue his football career as he will attend Gannon University in Erie, Pa., this fall where he plans to major in mechanical engineering.
Before the college experience begins for Gearhart, he is looking to one more opportunity to play under the "Friday Night Lights" in front of the hometown crowd.
"It's a great cause with a lot of great people and a lot of great competition and great teammates," said Gearhart. "Why not come out and play and have fun and create some money for a good cause."
The opening kick off is scheduled for 7 p.m.