CLINTWOOD, Va. – Ridgeview junior Nick Phillips expected to face pressure this season as the new quarterback of the Wolfpack football team.
That’s why he studied the actions of starter Tyler O’Quin so intently last year.
“It was a learning process every day,” Phillips said. “I watched film and prepared for each game. I wanted to be ready.”
That apprenticeship has paid dividends. Through two games, the 6-foot, 170-pound Phillips has completed 13 of 17 passes for 155 yards for two scores without an interception.
“Our entire team has worked hard for this opportunity,” Phillips said.
The next step on the maturation ladder comes Friday when Ridgeview opens Mountain 7 District play at Wise Central.
Both teams are unbeaten and feature potent offenses. Wise Central averages 55 points and 434 yards rushing per game while Ridgeview counters with an average of 51 points and 392 yards rushing.
According to Phillips, the Wolfpack has all the ingredients for success on offense.
“We’ve got good coaches, a big line, talented receivers and a special running back,” Phillips said.
By now, most football fans in far Southwest Virginia along with college coaches across the East Coast have heard about that unique running back from Ridgeview.
One season after blasting for 1,983 yards on the ground, six-foot-one junior Trenton Adkins already has 652 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Phillips is not surprised at those staggering numbers.
“Trenton and I have been like brothers ever since we were able to walk,” Phillips said. “We’ve played football from the first grade on up.”
So what makes Adkins such a dominant runner and prized prospect?
“I think it’s his dedication and balance,” Phillips said. “Trenton just has a way of keeping his balance and he has an ability to see the entire field.”
While Adkins has attracted headlines, highlights and glowing reviews from various scouting services, Phillips hasn’t noticed any changes in the personality or attitude of his lifelong buddy.
“He’s gone from being just Trenton to this huge prospect but he’s still the same guy,” Phillips said. “Trenton has always been fun to watch, and I’m proud of what he’s accomplished.”
The pride has also been swelling among Wise Central fans.
After posting records of 3-7, 2-8 and 4-7 the past three years, the Warriors opened this season with blowout victories over Eastside (51-20) and Lebanon (60-21).
Not bad for a team dominated by sophomores.
“Other teams might have more experience and size or just look better on paper, but no team will out-effort us,” Wise Central sophomore running back Maddox Reynolds said.
The current underclassmen on the Central roster were phenoms at younger ages, blowing past nearly every opponent by a large margin.
As each year passed, the scrutiny by fans grew more intense and the outlook of fans became rosier.
That’s just fine by Reynolds.
“We welcome those expectations because it only pushes us to be better,” Reynolds said. “We don’t feel pressure. We’ve all formed bonds and we’ve all worked extra hard to get this far.”
In the season opener at Eastside on Aug. 30, Reynolds accounted for 115 yards rushing on just four carries. Sophomore Matt Peters and junior C.J. Crabtree also topped the 125-pound rushing mark on 12 combined carries.
“We have depth at every spot and we all go 100 mph in everything we do,” Reynolds said.
Phillips said there is one commonality between the football programs at Wise Central and Ridgeview.
“We’re real serious about football around here,” Phillips said.
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