Altus High School Bulldog senior Austin Baldwin may not be the biggest man on the field or the fastest, but he plays his role with something that cannot be measured with a ruler.
He plays with heart.
Every time Baldwin takes the field, his mind is on being the absolute best player he can be for those lined up to the right and left of him. It is a common theme for Bulldog football.
In the grand scheme of things, individual statistics mean very little when the team does not win. As a family, the Bulldogs have found a way to win as a group with each player ready for the opportunity when his number is called. But they are content to play their roles if that is what it takes to put the team in the best position to succeed.
Baldwin exemplifies the ideals instilled in the players by the coaches.
“My biggest strength is pushing every player to do their best,” Baldwin said. “I go out there and give it everything I have and try and do the job I need to do alongside my brothers.”
At 4-0, it is obvious that what they have built has been successful.
For all of his personal success, Baldwin credits his mother Debbie Pride.
“My mother is my biggest fan and role model, because she is always pushing me to do everything to my full extent,” Baldwin said. “It has made me realize that if I’m willing to put in the time and hard work, I will get to where I need to be.”
As a tight end, Baldwin’s job is to catch any passes thrown his way and to protect his quarterback and block for his runners, making him a significant piece of the Bulldog offense. Because of Altus’ high-powered rushing attack, much of his career in Altus has been spent blocking, a job that he has done exceptionally well given Taven Birdow’s record-breaking performances last year and Noah Villarreal’s production so far this season.
When he is not helping to pave the way for one of the many running backs on the team, he is making defenders cover him down the field for fear he will break loose and become a target for quarterback Jake Vargas.
As much as Altus is a rush-first team, defender also have to respect the passing game because of players willing and ready to take this team to the next level.
But the football field is not the only place Baldwin has found success. He is also a great wrestler on a potent roster..
Baldwin competed in the state tournament last wrestling season and made it out of the first round before falling to Trevor Long from Noble in the consolation semifinals by a 4-3 decision.
Once football is over, Baldwin plans to hit the mat again and make his way back to the state championship tournament with the hope of winning it all his senior year.
There have been colleges interested in Baldwin as a wrestler, and although nothing is set in stone, he has his eyes on one in particular.
“When I started wrestling at 10, I just fell in love with the sport. I have had about eight colleges interested,” Baldwin said. “At this time, I really have my mind set on Ozarks and that is probably where I will go.”
Several Altus wrestlers have gone on to earn college scholarships. Whether it be football or wrestling, the name Altus now carries significant weight in both sports.
Even though Baldwin is in his senior year with a bright future ahead of him, his focus is the next game.
The only thing on his mind right now is going into the next town, beating the next team and making sure his football team continues to head in the right direction.
Reach Ryan Lewis at 580-482-1221, ext. 2076.