VAN — Slade Adams is more than an enforcer on the offensive line for Van High’s football team.
The senior carries a weighted 4.3 GPA in the classroom and is fleet footed enough to lead the squad from his middle linebacker slot while knocking down line drives at third base for the baseball team.
“I feel like we’ve gotten a lot stronger as a team,” he said. “We’ve gone from having five guys in the weight room to having just about the entire team in there this year. I’m excited about that.”
At 5-foot-11 and 225 pounds, Adams has added an inch of height and 15 pounds of muscle since his junior year.
He said that ultimately, team goals are what is on his mind.
“I’d like for us to get the shovel from Sherman because we’ve never had it but I’d trade it all for a playoff berth my senior year,” he added.
The “Showdown for the Shovel” is a game played between Sherman and Van that represents the long history of the school’s playing which began in 1931. The coal shovel goes to the winner each year to keep in their trophy case and that aspect of the Class A rivalry began in 2017.
The four-year starter said that off-season workouts conducted independently have been his focus along with his teammates.
“This is the hardest we’ve worked in years,” he said. “We’re trying to make sure we don’t get pushed around by anyone this season.”
Adams said that while one of the school’s all-time leaders in total yards is gone to graduation, the void left by David Stewart will be filled by capable legs and hands, including Stewart’s younger brother Byron.
“We’re adapting good and we’ll miss David and you’ll always miss a guy like that but Byron and Brady Green and those guys are 200-pound tailbacks who can run. I think we’ll be okay. I think our team speed is good. That has been a focus.”
Adams said that he feels like he is in better shape entering Aug. 17 practice than he was last season.
“I’m in better shape today than I was in week five last season,” he added.
First-year coach Mark Agosti has left an impression on Adams and he said that the coach’s energy has caught on with the team.
“He brings leadership and he works us hard,” he said. He’s high energy and he won’t let us back off on anything. Whether it is sprints or work in the weight room, there are expectations and we know it. Coach wants the best for us”
Adams thought that COVID-19 was going to wipe out the start of the season when it appeared at late winter/spring. He’s happy that practices are set to begin in a few days.
“I really thought we wouldn’t have a season and of course you hope it isn’t cut short,” he said. “As of right now I’m excited to get started.”
He said that he likes the improvements he sees in underclassmen who will play major roles on the 2020 version of Bulldog football.
“We will be young again and we had some freshmen starting last year so those guys are a year ahead and have experience so we’re in good shape, I think,” he added.
Adams looks to join the Army National Guard after high school and go to engineering school. He has been communicating with a recruiter since March. He has about 30 hours of college credit behind him now, headed into his senior year. He’s taken advantage of dual credit college courses and has absorbed English 101, geography, history, pshycology and sociology.
“It was kind of stressful especially playing two sports but I loaded myself up with those courses and I’m glad that I did,” he concluded. “I like to challenge myself.”
See Adams and the Bulldogs kick off their season on Sept. 4 as they host Liberty (Raleigh) at Herschel Jarrell Field.
Reporter Phil Perry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 304-307-2401.