Owen Hatfield has never been timed in the 40-yard dash, but it’s safe to say he’s one of the fastest, if not the fastest, player on his Indianapolis Wolverines travel football team.
That speed, along with his playmaking ability on both sides of the ball, helped land the 10-year-old fifth-grader at Mt. Healthy Elementary a spot on Team Indiana White for this weekend’s D1 All-America Tournament in Atlanta. The event begins today and continues through Monday.
“He’s incredibly fast,” said Owen’s father Andy, the Wolverines defensive coordinator. “He’s the fastest 10-year-old that most people have ever seen. When we went to Canton (Ohio), that’s a national tournament and he was still faster than everybody.”
Owen tried out for and made the Wolverines team last February, right when the organization was getting started. Since then, they’ve played in Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois and Missouri. They won four tournaments and finished runner-up in the Sports Illustrated Tournament last summer in Canton.
“It’s been fun,” Owen said. “It’s very interesting. We don’t usually talk down here like they do up there (in Indianapolis). They talk a lot.”
At 5-foot, 82 pounds, Owen plays mostly wide receiver and safety for the Wolverines and for his home team, the Bartholomew County Bears, for which he has played the past three years. He also has played quarterback, linebacker and cornerback.
“You can put me at any position, and I’ll play it,” Owen said.
Owen likes playing safety the best. He had an interception in the tournament in Canton.
“I can read the quarterback’s eyes, and I can follow where he is about to throw,” Owen said. “If he cocks back a lot, it’s going to be a deep pass, but if he just stands up and throws it, it’s going to be a short pass.”
Owen also plays basketball for Mt. Healthy in the Elementary Basketball League and just made Columbus Heat travel basketball team. He has been playing football with the Bartholomew County Bears for three years and played up with the Bears sixth-grade team last year when they won Mid-State All-Star Tournament.
The Wolverines program, he said, is a little more intense.
“It’a a little more aggressive, and the coaching is a little tougher,” Andy said. “You’re expected to do more, and it’s not an ‘every-kid-plays’ type of thing. It’s more of a ‘You-get-what-you-put-in.’”
Owen also played in the inaugural North vs. South Youth All-Star Game last summer in Evansville.
“There’s a lot of eyes that come to our games because they’re pretty high-profile youth football games, especially some of the tournaments that we play in,” Andy said. “There’s a D-I representative in every state, and we played against (the representative’s) home team three or four times, and he played pretty well against them. Then, the North-South All-Star Game in Evansville, he put a pretty good hit on their quarterback, and that was when they started seeing talent.”
This weekend’s DI All-American Tournament features 117 teams from 38 states. Team Indiana White will play seeding games against teams from New York and Ohio, then will play in a bracketed tournament.
“I’m very excited…nervous, but excited,” Owen said. “I want to score a touchdown, and I want to block for people that will actually score a touchdown.”