The Hobart High School Brickies football team have been the talk of the Region all season. The Brickies had to overcome early season adversity on their way to their first state championship appearance since 1996. Head Coach Craig Osika, has built a special relationship with his upperclassmen players since taking over head coaching duties in 2018.
“I got to see a lot of these guys grow up,” Osika said. “Many of these kids, I knew their parents and they've been involved with the football program since they were little. I knew when these guys came in as freshmen that they were going to be a special group.”
Osika’s team bounced back from early losses to Merrillville High School and Andrean High School to an 11-2 record, where they defeated Lowell High School and Logansport High School to advance to the State Championship, where they will play against Roncalli High School.
“Early on in the season we just weren’t getting anything on offense, but after we lost against Merrillville, we got our offense back on track,” Osika said.
For many of the seniors on this Brickies team, the game will be the last time they’ll wear the purple and gold. The thrills of playing underneath the Friday night lights will conclude for many of the seniors. Osika emphasized this feeling with his players.
“There’s very few times where you know it’s your last game regardless of the outcome,” Osika said. “Whether we win or lose, our season is over. I told the guys last week, this will be the last time many of them will get to put on a helmet. I told them to cherish the moment, regardless of what happens Friday.”
Osika, who played in the NFL from 2002-2005, brought his experiences of playing football at every level to relate to his players.
“I’ve played football at every level, and I will say playing in high school was my favorite time playing football,” Osika said. “When you’re in high school, you’re playing for the pure love of the game.”
When asked about his seniors, Osika brought up two of his leaders on the team. Senior defensive lineman Bobby Babcock and senior wide receiver Zach Vode are both Division-1 bound players for the Brickies. Babcock, who was injured earlier in the season, took sophomore Noah Miller under his wing, mentoring Miller into a crucial part of Hobart’s defense.
“Bobby took Noah under his wing and really helped Noah blossom into a great defensive player,” Osika said. “It’s a testament to Bobby’s leadership and Noah’s eagerness to learn. It’s not typical to have a sophomore play on varsity.”
Babcock, who has committed to play college football at Illinois State, has mentored Miller since being brought up to varsity after playing Kankakee Valley High School in October. Vode, who will play college football at Western Michigan next season, along with Babcock are leaders for the Brickies. Osika noticed their unique talents early on.
“Both Bobby and Zach are full of heart, talent, and leadership.” Osika said. “They have those things you can’t teach. Zach is 6’3 and runs like a deer, and Bobby has the size and strength to break through the line and get to the ball carrier. Those are just God-given talents.”
Hobart High School will represent the Region in the State Championship game Friday, November 27. For all the highlights and exciting moments from this fall, check out the Brickies’ incredible year with our season-long coverage at https://nwi.life/schools/hobart-high-school/.