Until midway through his ninth grade football season, Marc Hinckley played on the junior varsity and wondered if he should even try to play the sport in high school.
He moved up to the Evergreen Junior High varsity only because a starter missed practice. He considered himself more a basketball player and track athlete.
“As a sophomore I wasn’t excited, you might say, to play football,” the Central Valley senior recalled. “I kind of had doubts.”
Hinckley turned out at the urgings of his friends. Midway through his junior season, just like his freshman year, Hinckley broke through.
“I had a really, really good game, just before the playoffs,” he said. “From then on I knew I could play.”
It is a lesson, he says, for every aspiring high school athlete. No matter what happens early on, don’t give up.
“I recommend turning out, trying it for a year and seeing if you like it,” he said. “Get in the weight room and get stronger. It paid off a lot for me.”
The Bears made the playoffs his junior year, when Hinckley was named second-team all-Greater Spokane League tight end.
They currently are unbeaten and preparing for Friday night’s rivalry game with 3-2 University High.
Hinckley is not only one of the GSL’s better tight ends, said coach Rick Giampietri, but has become dominant on defense as well.
“He’s a better blocker on offense, but what I’ve seen is an ability to run down the ball on defense,” said Giampietri.
Last week against Mead, Hinckley forced Panthers quarterback Brandon Muzatko to pitch the ball on an option play, then ran over and tackled the ball carrier.
The Panthers later had the ball on the one yard line and Hinckley made two tackles to set them back three yards and thwart a touchdown opportunity.
Both player and coach credit Hinckley’s continual improvement to his work in the “body shop,” CV’s weight room.
“I feel a lot stronger and feel faster,” said the 6-foot-3, 190-pounder.
It is not enough any more to just be athletic, said Giampietri, but to be athletic and physical.
“The big thing is that Marc has done everything we’ve asked him to do,” he said.
Giampietri doubted that the incoming sophomore could bench press 135 pounds in the weight room.
He’s added 80 pounds to his bench press, doubled his squat to 345 pounds over the last three years and increased his power clean lift by 100 pounds to 245.
“That is a judge of how good an athlete is,” said Giampietri. “Marc doesn’t look real physical, but he plays that way.”
The three-sport athlete made varsity in basketball as a sophomore and last year qualified for state by high jumping 6-foot-5.
Football has now become one of his favorite sports. Hinckley is glad he stuck around to play and have an impact for a team that from day one has been expected to win the GSL and reach the state playoffs.
“I really would have regretted not playing,” he said. “I wouldn’t have known what I missed.”
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