BOULDER — It was fun to show up to random stadiums this season for Fairview football games and listen to savvy fans hunting for Knights senior Carlo Kemp during the pregame warm-ups.
And after a quick scan, it didn't take long for them to spot No. 5. His massive frame, highlighted by legs that double as tree trunks, was an imposing force for the Knights over the past four seasons and will be greatly missed.
Kemp was the hands down choice for the BoCoPreps.com defensive player of the year award.
"I would just go out there on a Friday or Saturday night and just play. My biggest thing these last four years was just going out there and playing, not over-thinking it or trying to do anything special or even worrying about stats," Kemp said. "Stats come if you play the game the right way. You'll put yourself in good positions to make plays and put your teammates in good positions so they can make plays."
Even with opposing coaches scheming against him and the constant double and even triple teams, the 6-foot-3, 260 pound Kemp still averaged eight tackles a game. You can only imagine the number of other plays he influenced with his presence.
"I just tried to put my team in the best position I could to win," he said.
When reflecting on his four season of high school football, Kemp goes back to his sophomore season and two specific games that will forever be etched into his mind.
It was the year the Knights went all the way to the state title game, but along the way had to dispatch North Metro League foe Pomona twice.
In the regular season match-up at the North Area Athletic Complex, Kemp, who will play his college ball for Jim Harbaugh at the University of Michigan, remembers a series of plays like it happened yesterday.
"We were about to go up three scores and we fumbled on the 10-yard line and right then the momentum went right back to Pomona and they went down and scored," he recalls, "They scored on their next drive, and all of the sudden it was 30-30. That game was a battle and I remember just being so young and playing all those older guys at Pomona."
Fairview would go on to win that game and the league title 33-30 on a last-second field goal, but it wouldn't be the last time the Knights and Panthers would tangle that season. The rematch would occur in the state quarterfinals.
"It was just a dogfight in the trenches and I had never really experienced it until then," said Kemp, who will graduate early and head to Ann Arbor in January to start his first collegiate semester. "When I think of games that really stand out for me, it was those two games against Pomona."
During his senior year, Kemp led the Knights with 81 tackles, including seven for loss. And when the Knights needed him most, he came through.
Ironically both games came at French Field in Fort Collins. The first against Poudre when he sacked Impalas' quarterback James Campbell on a 1st-and-goal situation, and watched his teammate Dimitri Brown make a play on the goalline to win the game. The second was when he recorded 10 tackles in a 47-46 double overtime win against Rocky Mountain two weeks later.