They know each other’s tendencies and almost know what the other is going to say next. They’ve made memories together and hope to make many more.
This gang of 14 players, together since the days of youth football in Colonial Heights, is nearing the end of its journey.
One of them is quarterback Luke Pollack, who backed up Ethan Ward for the past three years. Pollack now has the keys to the well-oiled machine that is the Rebels’ offense, which helped compile a 7-4 record in 2017 that included a heartbreaking 45-42, first-round playoff loss at Central of Chattanooga.
“We felt like that game slipped away at the very end,” Pollack said. “They were a good football team and that game could have gone either way.”
Replacing Ward, who because of his scrambling ability was a big play waiting to happen, is no small task. However, Pollack brings a pocket presence to the position and accuracy as a passer. He is also not entirely new to big situations.
When Ward was hurt during his sophomore and junior campaigns, Pollack came on and fit right in. In fact, he played against Greeneville during his freshman season in 2015 and the Rebels held their own, losing just 28-14 to the Greene Devils.
“I was 14 years old and it was just a next-man-up mentality,” Pollack noted. “I was trying to do my best out there, supporting the seniors and trying to get a good ending to the season.”
Pollack said the main thing he learned from Ward was to be a presence in the huddle.
“I need to be a leader on the field to my teammates every single day,” Pollack added. “On the football field, (Ward) was an all-state-type football player and was a lot to look up to.”
Now, with a veteran offensive line featuring one senior, three juniors and a sophomore, second-year coach Justin Hilton’s Rebels will have a granite wall up front to protect Pollack in the pocket.
“Our offensive line is going to make a big impact this year. We go as they go every year,” Pollack said. “We have a lot of senior skill guys and we’re going to be relying on them to make a bunch of plays for us this year.
“This is a tight-knit group of players we’ve got. We’ve been playing together since we were little boys and we hang out together as buddies. We’re all so ready to compete for our last season together.”