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D-B's Hicks works to become a complete back

Jeff Birchfield • Aug 8, 2018 at 10:00 PM

KINGSPORT — Ever since he started playing, Ian Hicks has loved contact on the football field. In fact, the Dobyns-Bennett senior running back used to love it a little too much for his high school coach.

If a defender was in the way, there was no way Hicks was going to try to avoid him. Instead, it was full steam ahead.

"His sophomore year, I used to get so mad at him," D-B coach Joey Christian said. "His sole goal was just to run over people. If he would break free at the line, he was going to truck some safety or cornerback at the back end.

"I challenged him to get some elusiveness if he was going to get the opportunity to get to the next level. He did, and this past year, he made a lot of people miss. It led to longer runs, and now he has that elusive factor in addition to running hard between the tackles."

Avoiding the big collision is not something that came natural to Hicks.

Also a middle linebacker for the Indians, he will tell you his favorite part about football is that feeling of when he breaks through a tackle on offense or comes up with the big hit on defense.

"My favorite part about it is being physical," Hicks said. "Football is a contact sport, and you have to love it."

He loved it to the tune of 238 carries for 1,593 yards and 17 touchdowns last season. But his main goal is team success like last season, when the Indians captured the Region 1-6A championship and advanced to the second round of the TSSAA playoffs.

This season, Hicks and his teammates want to do even better than last year's 8-4 record, and they want to go farther in the playoffs. In fact, they've set a goal of getting all the way to the state championship game. While they started strong in several games last season, Hicks said they didn't finish some games the way they would have liked.

A strong effort over four quarters has been an emphasis this year. Hicks and his teammates have worked toward that objective by becoming stronger and better conditioned. His coach added that Hicks has also become a true student of the game, learning where a play is designed to go.

"He just works super hard," Christian said. "He's a weight room warrior and has added on 40 pounds of muscle and good weight. He never misses a set in the weight room, and he runs the ball hard. He's got really good vision, and he understands how the play is blocked. That helps him with his vision and to set up defenders."

With an explosive first burst, it should come as no surprise that Hicks' favorite sport outside of football is drag racing, particularly the nitro-burning Top Fuel cars and the feeling the 11,000-horsepower machines give when they are taking off.

Hicks certainly doesn't have that rocket ship power, but he can be like a steamroller at times. But to his coach's delight, he's also developed more of an all-around game.

"I've continued to work on being more elusive this offseason," Hicks said. "When we run plays, I don't have to go straight at someone. I've improved on my speed and my footwork. I don't want to be a one-dimensional back. I want to have all the tools."

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