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Airedales’ Downs team player 9/22/22

Airedales’ Downs team player

By Kevin Taylor

Alma Schools 


The cool breezy air made getting up early to block and tackle teammates this week a lot easier for the Alma Airedales’ football team. 


Practicing football at 6 a.m. isn’t for everyone, but it’s a lot easier - and better on the body - than hitting someone at 3:40 p.m. in the midst of the extended brutal summer heat. 


Whatever the team does, however, wouldn’t have affected the choices made by linebacker Noah Downs. 


The backup Airedales’ linebacker is one of those players coach Rusty Bush loves to be around. 


First in the building, last to leave. 


“I think it says a lot about your character,” he said. “You need to realize the role you play. I think another big thing is our coaching. This year we came in with two or three new coaches and they’ve helped encourage some people that may have thought about quitting to stay on. My biggest thing is knowing your role and being humble about it.”


Downs progressed through the Airedales’ system without any missteps. 


“With Noah, it’s going to go beyond football,” Bush said. “I think it builds character and integrity. He’ll leave a legacy of Alma Airedale football for these younger kids.”


Downs has but three tackles for the Airedales while serving as a backup for Dillon Flanagan. 


But that doesn’t make him any less of a teammate.


“I know the role I play,” he said. “I know I’m going to be a play-every-snap-guy; I know I’m going to be out there for a handful of plays on defense and special teams. I don’t want to fail my play and let the other team get an explosive play. I have to fill my lane and do my job on the kickoff and on defense I have to do my assignment.”


“You’re so thankful for guys like that, especially in this day and time when kids stick it out, even though they’re maybe not a guy that plays every snap,” Bush said. “He contributes to this football team as a great teammate; he’s here every day.


“He just accepts his role.”


“It’s fun to have the head coach as your position coach,” Downs said. “He likes to be hard on us, and with how we run our defense now, the linebackers make most of the calls, so he really wants to make sure we have those calls down going into each week.”


The unbeaten Airedales have a chance Friday to be 4-0 for the first time since the 2004 season. That season, Joseph Medeiros led the Airedales out of the gate to a 12-0 record. 


“Going 4-and-0 is very possible going into Clarksville,” Downs said. “There’s not a better feeling than winning.”


After combining for five wins the previous two years, the Airedales started to come together, Downs said, during the off-season. The addition of first-year varsity coaches Joey Potts, Kirk BensonPayton Morris, and Eric Marsh are kid-magnets. 


“We knew where we had to be,” Downs said. “I think as a team we were going to do whatever it takes to get there. I think a lot of it was being more disciplined. I think that’s what has made it so good.”


As for wearing Alma colors, Downs said beating Van Buren last month was both good for the soul and sad at the same time.


His time as an Airedale is drawing closer to the end. 


“I guess after the Battle of the Bone is when I really hit me,” Downs said. “I’m like, ‘Wow, that’s the last time I’m going to hit somebody in a Van Buren jersey, and we won! You know, that was bittersweet. 


“(But) the best feeling ever was being able to rip the helmet off and go and find everybody and hug them after the game.”