R/W Week: The man behind the helmet

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Olivia Evans

Photo by Olivia Evans

A crisp snap from center Hayden Vinegar (Class of 2015) glides perfectly into his waiting hands. Quickly, Manual quarterback Tim Comstock scans the field, searching for an open receiver. Spotted. Comstock sees his man jab left and break across the front of a Male player. Timing the throw perfectly, Comstock winds up and releases, hitting his man smack dab in the hands. All in all, Comstock threw for 471 yards in last year’s 122nd edition of the Old Rivalry game, what would become his most memorable performance of his high school career to date.

From the age of six, Comstock, who has been Manual’s starting quarterback for the past two seasons, has been following in his father’s footsteps and chasing the dream of succeeding in professional football.

“I’ve played just about every sport,” Comstock said. “But as I played football more, I started to enjoy it more.”

Before the start of each season, Comstock makes an active, conscious effort to prepare both physically and mentally. In addition to developing strength and general fitness with a personal trainer, he also works with quarterback coach Stefan LeFors, a former University of Louisville dual threat quarterback who helps him fine tune his throwing mechanics. To stay healthy, Comstock makes sure to drink plenty of water, eat healthfully and take salt supplements for extra energy.

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Photo by Olivia Evans

In order to maintain a forward-looking attitude, Comstock sets formal goals for himself. At the start of the pre-season, he writes his core aspirations for the year on a sheet of paper, pasting them on the ceiling above his bed to read and reread every night.

Also in line with mental preparation is Comstock’s focus on studying football films, which he does by completely immersing himself in analyzing every specialty of the opponent on screen, shutting out anything and everything besides the video at hand. Comstock plays the films on repeat until he feels confident that he can be fully in his competitor’s head, as if they could come to life and he could predict their every move.

But above all, Comstock said that the most important part of getting in the right mindset for a successful game happens every Friday as the 2:20 p.m. dismissal bell rings. As other students rush to their buses and cars, eager to let their minds wander to the weekend, Comstock and his teammates trek down to the cement breezeway where the football locker room is located. Though his fellow players sometimes enjoy turning up the music to hype themselves up, Comstock prefers to sit in silence and envision how he hopes to execute in that evening’s game. As he straps on his pads and dons his game attire, Comstock says a simple prayer asking God for protection and guidance as he prepares for battle.

“When I finally take my first steps out on the grass, I get a rush of excitement and anxiety, but not too much,” he said.

This year, Comstock has struggled a little more than last, with nine interceptions and two lost fumbles on the season. He attributes these errors to the fact that he is trying to do too much, but said that he takes full responsibility, since it is his job to control the ball as quarterback.

“Comstock has made minimal mistakes this year,” Manual Head Coach Oliver Lucas said. “Everybody is going to make mistakes because we aren’t perfect.”

Comstock has also faced a challenge with competitions this season, with his average completion rate down by about two passes per game compared to last season (as of the first five games of 2015). This struggle can be partially attributed to the coaching staff’s commitment to giving other pieces of offense time to shine.

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Photo by Olivia Evans

Despite some difficulties, Comstock cites sage wisdom from his father–”forget about the last play and move to the next”–as the basis for his optimistic attitude.

Comstock’s ultimate goal is to one day be sitting in the locker room on Sunday, suiting up in preparation to perform on primetime for millions of anxious fans across the country. But before he can make it pro, Comstock must play and excel at the collegiate level. So far, he’s received interest from several colleges, including Indiana State, Southeast Missouri, Morehead State, Miami of Ohio, Dayton and the University of Kentucky.

Rendering him an especially unique candidate is Comstock’s ability to play on both sides of the ball, which he has done extensively throughout his senior season.

“Colleges are looking at me as an athlete,” he said. “They need to see me do both [offense and defense].”

Though football is obviously a huge part of who Tim Comstock is, it doesn’t consume his whole life. Comstock plays basketball and runs track for Manual, which he said helps him stay in shape year-round. He also is a well-adjusted, successful student who maintains a 3.7 GPA and is a self-described “friend to anyone.”

Quarterback Tim Comstock (12, #3) runs for a gain of four at the beginning of the first quarter. Photo by Kate Hatter
Comstock runs for a gain of four against Central. Photo by Kate Hatter

This Friday’s Male/Manual rivalry game will be the last of Comstock’s career. This will be the last time he will have the opportunity to walk into the cool, crisp air at brightly-lit Manual Stadium to see the thousands of screaming parents and students painted head-to-toe in crimson and white, infinitely more energized and animated than they’ve been all season. This will be the last time he’ll be able to stare down the opposing team, decked out in purple and gold, with four years’ worth of grit and determination. This will be the last chance he has to win back the precious barrel and hoist it over his head after what would, no doubt, be an incredible victory. This will be the last one.

His coach’s advice for the game? “I just want him to go out there and do the same [thing he has been doing],” Lucas said. “I don’t want him to do anything extra. Most quarterbacks get into trouble when they try to do too much.”

Whatever happens this Friday night, Comstock strives to leave behind a legacy of strong leadership, work ethic and commitment. He hopes that all the Manual teams to come will follow the precedent that he has set for the program.

“Even when I’m not doing my best, I still give it my all,” he said.

All statistics courtesy of MaxPreps.

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