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Catoctin’s Fields takes on all duties

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Do-it-all-junior contributes in every phase for 6-0 Cougars

By Greg Swatek

THURMONT — His voice echoing off the walls of an empty hallway at Catoctin High School, Travis Fields spent close to 10 minutes answering questions about himself and his unbeaten football team.

Fields, a junior do-it-all player for the Cougars, was matter-of-fact throughout the session. Swaying slightly from side to side, arms tucked behind his back, he calmly and personably handled every query.

His body language or tone of voice never gave away that, at 6-0, the Cougars are off to their best start in nearly a decade or that he has played a big role in their success.

The last time Catoctin sported such a record, it eventually hoisted the Class 1A state-championship trophy on a gray, snowy day in December 2009 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

Fields and the rest of his team are trying not to get too far ahead of themselves, though. Another formidable opponent, Boys’ Latin, awaits at noon Saturday, and Catoctin is trying to keep its feet planted firmly on the ground, even as the hype around the team in the school and the community continues to grow.

The team fully recognizes there is a long way to go, and a lot can happen between now and the end of the season. It went 8-2 last season and missed the playoffs in the 1A West region.

“We are all happy that we are 6-0. But we have had to work hard to go 6-0,” Fields said.

As a first-year varsity player, the 5-foot-9, 150-pound Fields has consistently found a way to come through, often when his team has needed him the most.

On Sept. 14 in Oakland, Maryland, Fields caught a 30-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Christian Michael midway through the fourth quarter that proved to be the game-winner in a 28-27 victory at Southern Garrett.

On Sept. 29, in a home game against Williamsport, he snagged a 43-yard scoring strike from Michael and returned a kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown in a 39-34 win over the Wildcats.

He also handles all of Catoctin’s kicking responsibilities (kickoffs, field goals and extra points) and lines up across from opposing receivers as a defensive back. He’ll get an occasional carry on offense, and coach Doug Williams said Fields could throw a pass if necessary.

And Fields goes about all of this in his own quiet way. Like many of his teammates, he doesn’t need to be asked twice. He is second on the team to junior Mason Clark in receptions (16), receiving yards (357) and touchdowns (three).

“You have to be intelligent to do all of that stuff. You have to be athletic to do all of that stuff,” Williams said. “It’s nice when you have that combination in a player. Travis is a very likable, easy going, very coachable kid. It’s hard to find that, too.”

Fields, like most of his teammates, doesn’t seem to be fazed by much.

On most mornings, he wakes up at 6:30 and makes the modest drive to his grandparents’ farm, Hill View Acres, in Keymar to help feed the steer he hopes to raise into champions.

Last year, Fields’ 1,264-pound shorthorn steer, Geno, was named the grand champion at the Great Frederick Fair and sold for more than $11,000.

“It meant a lot,” Fields said. “I was the only one in the family to [raise a champion steer].”

This is the line of work that he would like to get into one day. When he finally gets home from school — after football practice in the fall — he goes back to the farm for another feeding. On the weekends, he helps wash the livestock.

However, when asked whether raising a champion steer or getting a big football win is more satisfying, he offered a slight smile and responded, “A football win.”

Fields, like most of the rest of his team, isn’t fazed by much.

“What makes these kids so special is we have fallen behind in three games so far and have come back and won,” Williams said. “We’ve played some close games, and it didn’t faze ‘em. They didn’t freak. They kept plugging away, and they won.”

When asked why his kids haven’t let the biggest moments get the best of them, Williams said, “I can’t answer that. Some teams do freak. They fall behind, and they quit. Or they freak out and don’t execute. This team [at Catoctin] hasn’t done that yet.”

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