Call it the Falls Creek factor.
There’s all kinds of disruptions to the flow of Summer Pride and all that accompanies it — vacations, church camps to name a couple. Falls Creek is a popular and very early summer church camp destination for many area high school kids.
Trace Ford wasn’t in that group last week, so at Hilldale’s passing league outing at Indian Bowl, it became an advantage for the junior receiver.
“He’d already been getting reps with our ones but we had two of our four starting receivers out and our running back, all at camp,” Hornets coach David Blevins said.
“Trace had four or five catches last week, looked really good and he’s getting better and better. He’s got a lot of speed off the ball and runs good routes.”
And he’s growing some. Blevins called Ford 5-11, 170. Ford said that’s now 6 feet in height. The rest of his coach’s words, he was fine with.
“It’s a good feeling,” Ford said, hearing his coach’s early review.
“I feel like I have the potential to do a lot better. I just have to keep working and being here every day and focusing on what I need to do to improve.”
Blevins said all the intangibles are there.
“He’s got a lot of speed off the ball. He runs good routes and has good hands,” the first-year Hornets mentor said. “And he definitely is getting better and better. He’s had a good off-season so far.”
Ford saw limited varsity reps as a sophomore at both receiver and cornerback. It was his first year at Hilldale, having moved there with his mom from Pottsville, which has a Class 4A school in Arkansas.
“I see this year as an opportunity. I didn’t get to show what I was really capable of doing last year, and with everyone that is new coming in on the staff it’s a brand new chance to show what you can do,” Ford said.
Yet the Hornets are certainly aware of Blevins, himself a Hilldale alum, who also happened to be the offensive coordinator under Matt Hennesy at Locust Grove during some record-setting passing years with then quarterback Mason Fine, a guy being pushed for the Heisman Trophy at North Texas this coming season. Blevins became head coach after Fine graduated.
“I heard they were pretty good and (Fine) is a great quarterback,” Ford said. “I look at this offense and it is more pass-based, using your skill players. I know what the coaches are doing, they’ve been successful with it and I trust that process. We got quarterbacks that I believe can get it done.”
And he has trust in himself as a target for those quarterbacks.
“I feel I’m going to have to focus this summer on getting a little faster because I’m not that tall, and I need to work on contested catching maybe a little more.
“I think I can be a key role player.”