Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
Southern Ohio Sports Authority is presented by OhioHealth.
McDERMOTT — If you line up and see Alex Baer in front of you, take it as a sign that it’s going to be a long night.
Northwest’s senior leader and one of the region’s best all-around lineman is no stranger to dogfights. His undying motor and relentless style of play have helped transform the Mohawks’ culture and expectations.
In the four years prior to Baer’s freshman year, Northwest put together an overall record of 13-27. In Baer’s three seasons — and with one to go — the Mohawks are 17-13 with a playoff appearance.
The All-Ohio lineman will be the first to tell you that he’s not solely responsible for that turnaround. However, the positive attitude and leadership he brings makes it no coincidence.
“Any abilities or talents I have come from God. He deserves the praise for anything I accomplish,” Baer said. “However, with those abilities comes responsibility. Who I am on the field is a reflection of what I do off the field. I can only speak for myself, but I have worked very hard to become the best player I can be with my work ethic. Early mornings, late night workouts, summer camps and being teachable are traits I strive to have.”
If you’ve watched Baer work in the trenches, you know his play speaks for itself. However, it consistently flies under the radar.
While he isn’t scoring touchdowns to grab headlines, he’s paving the way for his teammates to do so. The spotlight isn’t what he desires anyways. He’d trade that any day for a win.
“It’s been said that most games are won in the trenches,” Baer said. “I’ve been fortunate to play every position at one time or another on the offensive and defensive lines. I had to resign to the fact I may not get my name mentioned in headlines or over the loudspeaker. However, as linemen, we know if it weren’t for the holes we make or keeping pressure from the quarterback, then big plays wouldn’t happen. At the end of the day, we are a family and we have each other’s backs.”
Baer fell in love with football at a young age. That relationship has only gotten stronger.
But now he finds himself as a senior and it’s dawning on him that, at least at the prep level, his career is coming to an end. That means that every practice, every game and every play will mean a little more.
“It hit me during the summer camp circuit that this will be my final season,” Baer said. “COVID proved that we take so much for granted. God has blessed me to be able to play this game I love since the first grade. Our team has set goals and I have set personal goals. I will enjoy each game to the fullest and I will not take any plays off. That’s never been my attitude and I don’t plan to stop now. It will be an emotional year but our team will make this an unforgettable year for our district and fans.”
If the Mohawks are to do so, they’ll more than likely be using a familiar recipe.Led by Baer, their offensive line has a reputation to uphold.
Last season, a run-heavy offense managed to score 254 points in 11 contests. There’s more of the same in the forecast this fall.
“Northwest has always been known for a strong running game and big men up front,” Baer said. “This year will be no different but we have some new faces and some exciting young athletes that will quickly make some noise. Our biggest asset will be our passion and drive.”
And there will be no shortage of motivation.
Last season, Northwest had a golden opportunity to win the SOC I title. However, a gut-wrenching 15-13 loss to Symmes Valley in Week 10 dashed any hopes for a banner year.
“The loss to Symmes Valley hurt us. We vowed that, this year, we have to finish what we start. We had some difficulty closing out games last season and we cannot afford to take any plays off this year,” Baer said. “Close games will demand fewer mistakes. So we have to work hard to plan correctly and execute correctly.”
The Mohawks start their year on Aug. 19, hosting Southeastern before ending their non-league slate with McClain and Huntington. Goals are in place and Baer and his teammates are ready.
“Each year, we have a goal to win the conference and make the playoffs,” Baer said. “If we can play team football, and to our potential, we have a good chance to win a playoff game or two. Most would feel that’s an impossible task. But if you don’t believe you can, then why step on the field?”