Adam Talley was a soccer player masquerading as a tentative sophomore running back for the East Valley junior varsity last fall while the varsity was masquerading as a football team.
By the end of the season Talley was one of the big reasons the Knights reached the semifinals of the State 2A playoffs, their deepest run since winning a state championship in 1981.
Despite less than a half season as a starter Talley was voted to the all-league second team by Great Northern League coaches. The 5-foot-8, 153-pound speedster is a big reason the Knights should be favored this season in this always-competitive race.
“He’s a special player,” Knights coach Adam Fisher said. “This is our 12th year as a program and he’s the best tailback we’ve had – and we’ve had some good ones.”
West Valley coach Craig Whitney said, “You have to tackle him as soon as he gets the ball or he’s gone.”
Which is easier said than done with Talley’s footwork and vision honed on the soccer pitch, where his 20 goals last spring led EV to an 18-4-1 record and a program-best third-place finish at state.
“I’m a soccer player that plays football,” said Talley, who became a starter when the Knights, who finished 7-6, were 1-5. “I only started football in eighth grade.”
He said his speed comes naturally. His mother Teresa was a track star and his father Curtis was a soccer player.
“He’s quick, instinctive, incredibly balanced and durable,” Fisher said. “He ran a 4.71 electronic so he has some work to do. We have to get him a little faster. He’s just so quick. His 10-yard burst is very good. We have to work on more top-end speed to be a real elite, elite breakaway threat.”
He also said Talley is extremely coachable, which is good because Talley said, “I don’t stretch that much, I just usually hit the field and go.”
In Fisher’s weights class players work on running mechanics as well as the strength that will make him faster.
“It’s just a matter of him taking the step,” Fisher said. “As we ask anyone, ‘How good to you want to be? Only you can answer that. Do you want to be a next-level guy?’
“In the United States they’re making more high schools, they’re not adding more universities.”
The guess is Talley wants it.
Though he still enjoys beating a goalie 1-on-1 in soccer, Talley said his favorite thing is hearing the crowd roar after he turns the corner, sees the end zone 80 yards away and knows no one is going to catch him.