Q: Describe the season for me. Did you feel like it was a success?
A: I think the season was a success. We came up short from what we wanted, but it was still a good season and a lot of people got better, and we’re sending a lot of people off to college, so that’s always good.
Q: You’re a big part of the football revival in midtown. What was it like during your career, when you think about the state of the program from your freshman year to now?
A: Outside of football, just making sure everybody stays on top of their grades and is acting right in school. That really helped us on the field. ... If you’re not going to listen [in the classroom], what makes you think you’re going to listen to a coach? So it just eliminated the bad apples out of the bunch, and it made everything a lot easier.
Q: When you were a freshman, did you think, “This team is gonna be really good one day?” Or were you like, “I don’t know what this program is going to be like”?
A: I knew we were going to be good eventually, because a lot of us got moved up freshman year and were playing varsity. So just the experience for four years, eventually we’re gonna be the oldest. So we knew we were gonna get developed, and we knew our time was coming.
Q: Is there a moment during the season that was your favorite memory?
A: The GW-[Danville] game. That game had a lot of excitement built up, and we were actually the underdogs coming in. We surprised everybody, I think.
Q: You started football at age 5. What’s your first football memory?
A: The next year, when I was 6, I scored my first touchdown. I was playing on the 7s and 8s when I was 5 and 6, and I scored my first touchdown at E.C. Glass against the Raiders. And I spiked the ball and got a penalty.
Q: What changed for you this past year?
A: I think I’m way stronger and faster than I’ve ever been. Just having the experience now, a lot of things came easier for me to see on the field.
Q: Let’s talk about records. You set school records, overtook your dad’s record. What was that like?
A: It was amazing. When it first happened, I didn’t even realize what was going on. It was in the middle of [the Glass-Heritage] game. It was a close game. But then after, I was like, “I have the most yards in history, and Glass has been around a long time.” So it just made me think that of all the athletes that came through, I have the record. I was real proud of myself.
So describe the atmosphere around school this year. I know it was exciting.
A: We actually got pulled aside by the administrators this year. A lot of kids look up to us, so they wanted the football team to be the ones to set the example. Like, we had a week where the football team handed out bottles and shirts and things like that just to keep everybody calm and make sure everything ran smooth, because we were the leaders of the school this year.
Q: What do you do in your free time?
A: I play video games, sleep and workout. Really, that’s it.
Q: What kinds of subjects are you interested in?
A: History. I feel like history has the most value. History and math.
Q: Favorite restaurant in town?
A: Iron & Ale.
Q: What are your interests outside football?
A: I like to watch basketball, and I like to watch boxing.
Q: What’s your favorite pro team?
A: I like the Eagles.
Q: So you’re going to announce your college decision soon. Do you think you’ll primarily play defense somewhere?
A: I’m looking at both [offense and defense]. Me being me, I want to play offense, but I will play defense if I have to [at corner].
Q: What drew you to football?
A: I just grew up around football. I think probably as soon as I could walk I had a football in my hand.
Q: Has the sport taught you any lessons that you’ll take with you throughout your life?
A: That if you work hard enough, good things are gonna come.
Q: I know it’s difficult to put your career into perspective, but how would you describe it?
A: I think people who saw me play throughout little league could tell I was gonna be good, but I feel like in middle school, I didn’t have my best years. People wouldn’t have thought I’d be going to play football in college back in middle school.
Q: How do you want to be remembered as a football player?
A: I want to be remembered as a football player, not just a quarterback. I want to be remembered as “when he played, he could do everything.”
This was a Glass team that was invested. Talk about your strengths.
A: Definitely our line. Holden [Ayers] transferred from Amherst, and the linemen all developed. BJ [Wheat], Holden, Carrington [Harvey], and Tyler [Paige], they all developed in the weight room and really came to be the best line I’ve probably ever had.
The person or people who have most influenced my life are …
A: All of my family. They support me and they really keep my head on straight, and I was raised right.
Q: How have you been able to play a sport like football that demands so much of your time and still maintain a 4.1 GPA?
A: What I do is after I get home from practice, I try to make it so I have the least amount as possible to do when I get home, because I know that’s when I’m gonna be tired and not want to do anything. So throughout the day if I have free time, I’ll just pull out stuff and start working or work during lunch. A lot of people, when they finish their work at school, will get on the computer or on YouTube or something. But I just try to get a little of my homework done and eventually I’ll finish it.
Ben Cates covers high school sports for The News & Advance. Reach him at (434) 385-5527.