Passing The Torch; Who Will Step Up To Fill The Shoes of Hicks, Leake and Linton?
With football season rapidly drawing to a close, the Clopton-Elsberry IndianHawks face the loss of senior standouts Jack Hicks, Rheed Leake and Devin Linton.
“I’ve coached for some bigger programs and I’ve seen some good talent, but all three of these kids could start in any of those bigger programs,” said Indianhawks Head Coach Mike Scheibel.
Scheibel, who is in his first year as head coach, said he is not looking forward to replacing any of these three seniors and that their absence will have a major impact on the team as a whole.
“Jack is the fastest kid on our team and he has been our centerpiece for the past two seasons,” said Scheibel. “When I first started coaching here I was really shocked by his ability to get outside and run. He has the opportunity to score on every play just by having the ball in his hands. I’ve never seen that in a quarterback before. His play-making ability is really going to be missed next year.”
In addition to the natural ability that Hicks possesses, Scheibel is also impressed by his willingness to make sacrifices for the overall good of the team.
“Quarterback is not Jack’s main position,” said Scheibel. “He does it because he wants what is best for the team. He’s a team player and I have a lot of respect for him because of that.”
When interviewed, Hicks was relatively humble with regard to his contributions to the team.
“I try to be a leader on and off the field,” said Hicks. “I try to get everybody ready to play and keep them mentally focused.”
Hicks is currently being recruited by several small NAIA schools and he has been talking with some Division-2 schools as well.
“My goal is to play Division-2 Football while majoring in computer programming,” said Hicks. “Possibly at Central Missouri State.”
Given the way Hicks has progressed under the current coaching staff, Scheibel feels that he can pretty much write his own ticket.
“I think he is ready to play at the next level. He’s just that good,” said Scheibel. “I can say the same thing about Rheed and Devon. Those three guys show up every day and teach the other players what it means to step up.”
Although college is certainly on the horizon, Hicks said that he has disciplined his mind and is primarily focused on getting the most out of the remainder of his high school career.
“One of our goals this year was to win a conference championship and it looks like that might be out of our reach now,” said Hicks. “However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t things that we can still accomplish. We can win our first playoff game and we can still win districts.”
One of Hick’s favorite memories is winning the District Championship in 2011 against Mark Twain.
“That was one of my best games,” said Hicks. “I had 15 tackles and two touchdowns.”
With his senior year drawing to a close, Hicks paused to reflect on all of the people who have supported and encouraged him throughout his tenure as an Indianhawk.
“I’d like to thank my mother and father,” said Hicks. “They had a lot to do with building this football program. I’d also like to thank Kevin Duggan. He’s been great with the younger kids at our school. Coaches Scheibel, McCann, Osbourne, Johnson and Gray are all committed to staying here. They want to help build this program. I wish they had been here during my freshman year. Finally, I’d like to thank my teammates who stuck with it when it was hard. Devin and Rheed have been there ever since the beginning. Without those guys I might have had trouble keeping my head up during the tough times.”
Hicks also acknowledged his former coach Adam Fallon.
“He taught me a lot about the game and I now realize that I think a lot like he does when it comes to football,” said Hicks.
When asked about underclassmen who could possibly fill his shoes, Hicks did not hesitate to make some interesting predictions.
“Stephan Talbert has a good arm and he moves well. He hasn’t been playing long, but he’s going to learn and he’s going to develop into a good football player,” said Hicks. “Kevin Hammett got some varsity starts early in the season as well. He’s going to be a heck of a football player. He reminds me of Rheed Leake.”
The departure of Rheed Leake and Devin Linton will leave the Indianhawks with an open wound defensively.
“This year Rheed and Devin have been our defense,” said Scheibel. “It’s going to be really hard to fill those spots next year. Those guys play so hard. Rheed never comes off the field and he never complains. He and Devin are always ready to go. I love those guys.”
Although Leake and Linton provide a large part of the Indianhawk defense, their individual defensive styles couldn’t be more different.
“Rheed is one of those guys who will come downhill and hit you,” said Scheibel. “Devin simply knows where the play is headed and gets there in time to be a part of it.”
“I feel that I lead by example very well,” added Leake. “On the field, I didn’t contribute much my freshman and sophomore years, but last year I was second on the team in tackles. This year I have scored more and I am on pace to have 100 tackles by the end of the season. Having 100 tackles is one of my goals.”
That’s not to say, however, that Leake’s contributions are all on the defensive side.
“I’ve never seen a kid fly around the field like Rheed Leake,” said Scheibel. “He’s a ‘get out of my way’ type of runner. He ran for 193 yards against Van-Far a few weeks ago. That’s something you don’t expect from a kid who has never really played running back before. That just shows what kind of kid he is.”
Leake scored three touchdowns during that game against Van-Far.
“That was my best game yet,” said Leake.
Scheibel feels that Leake has really stepped up on offense and has been able to run the ball more consistently this season overall.
“I think he has filled Charles Fraction’s shoes for us this season,” said Scheibel.
Leake has been contacted by both Illinois College and Iowa-Wesleyan with regard to playing football, but he has not made any official decisions as of yet.
“I plan to attend college, but my major is undecided,” said Leake, who attributes a large part of his success to the support and motivation that he has received from his parents and his sister.
When it came time to discuss his most likely replacement for next season, Leake wasted no time in agreeing with Hick’s prediction.
“I want to see Kevin Hammett step up and fill my spot,” said Leake. “I think he has a lot of potential and is a great athlete.
Devin Linton, who describes himself as a leader and role model for the younger players, is hoping to see Michael Werkmeister take over his spot at linebacker.
“I would also like to see Kevin Hammett and Dillon Zumwalt do well because they are great athletes,” said Linton. “One more guy I want to mention is Braden Traynor, I hope he hits the weight room and can become a great linebacker.”
Linton’s initial goals when he first started playing were to get recruited by USC and eventually play in the NFL, but for right now his college plans are up in the air.
“I’m undecided as to whether I will play sports after high school and where, but I will attend college,” said Linton. “I want to be a radiology technician.”
Like Leake, Linton acknowledged his parents and his sister for their encouragement.
Although the loss of these three phenomenal athletes will be a tough one, Scheibel is confident that some of his younger players will be ready to fulfill their own destinies when the time comes.
“Stephan Talbert is only a freshman right now but he makes great decisions for us as our junior varsity quarterback,” said Scheibel. “Kevin Hammett has also shown some really good signs as both halfback and running back, as has Dillon Zumwalt. He is a great player and could really be something special as long as he works hard and keeps a good attitude.”
Defensively, Scheibel is looking to freshmen linebackers Traynor, Collin Lockard and Scott Kuntz for leadership in the near future.
“Three years from now I see them being the three middle guys that nobody wants to run the ball at,” said Scheibel.
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