This year, expectations are even higher.
Except for a hiccup against defending Mountain 7 District champion Abingdon, the regular season was nearly perfect for the Wolfpack.
A 31-21 loss to Richlands in the Region 2D semifinals ended Ridgeview’s season — a little earlier than most expected — with a 10-2 mark.
For 2019, Ridgeview returns the Mountain 7 offensive player of the year, junior running back and NCAA Division I prospect Trenton Adkins, and the district’s defensive player of the year, senior Alijah Sproles.
Both players are looking for a much deeper run into the postseason than the one the Wolfpack had last season.
“Last year we got upset by Abingdon for the district championship and we’re taking it this year,” Sproles said.
“The expectation for us is to win state. To win the championship,” Adkins said. “I think that’s what we’re going to do.”
In addition to the big team goal of winning a state championships, Adkins also has some big objectives for himself in the upcoming season.
“Individually, my goal for yards is 3,000 yards this year,” he said.
Only nine players in VHSL history have rushed for more than 3,000 yards in a single season. But Adkins — who is being looked at by Tennessee, Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Maryland, Penn State, Memphis and Texas-San Antonio — has the ability to become the 10th.
As a sophomore, Adkins rushed for 1,983 yards and 24 touchdowns on 216 carries. He added four more touchdowns on the receiving end while hauling in nine catches for 238 yards.
Adkins also has an offensive line in front of him along which four of five players have serious playing experience and size. This front averages 6-foot-3 and 255 pounds.
“As a whole, I think we’re going to be a little better this year,” Adkins said. “Our offensive line has got a lot bigger. Everybody’s been working really hard and we’ve got good chemistry. And it’s going to take us where we need to go.”
Adkins does not deny there’s plenty of pressure off the field with being one of the top collegiate prospects in the region, but he tries to keep it in perspective.
“I just try to not think about it as much,” he said. “I just try to stay humble about it. It’s not that big of a deal; it’s just a name.”
Sproles is back at linebacker, where he recorded a team-high 121 tackles last season, to anchor the Wolfpack’s defense. As a junior, he totaled 12 tackles for loss and a sack, forced three fumbles and had an interception.
He’s pulling no punches about expectations for his senior season.
“I expect our team to be bigger and better and faster and a lot stronger,” Sproles said.
His high expectations come, in part, from the Wolfpack’s offseason work.
“Ever since the last game until now, we’ve worked harder than ever and have pushed the underclassmen to work harder,” Sproles noted. “Because we’ll be depending on a few of them to step up this year.”
READY TO ROLL
Ridgeview gets a tough preseason road test on Aug. 23 against Chilhowie, the defending VHSL Class 1 runner-up.
Ridgeview opens the regular season on Thursday, Aug. 29 at J.I. Burton.