For a bigger athlete, Garfield-Palouse junior Riley Hodges has wheels.
The 185-pounder may not be the Southeast 1B League’s best running back – there are several vying for that distinction.
Hodges, however, might be the league’s speediest.
As Colton coach Clark Vining wrote in his preseason questionnaire, Hodges is “fast!”
Hodges said he didn’t know if he was the league’s fastest.
“I’m not so sure,” he said. “I’d like to think I am. I’ve been told by a couple of coaches from other schools I’m fast. I don’t know.”
There is evidence. Last year as a sophomore five of his 10 touchdown runs ranged between 50 and 66 yards, with others of 30 and 35.
His speed is an inherited gift, said Gar-Pal coach Scott Thompson.
“He has a lot of acceleration and top-end speed,” Thompson said. “We saw it at the junior high level. Coming up, he just had the extra step; great quickness and that initial burst.”
Genetics notwithstanding, there is work involved to improve. Not the least has been repeated runs on an uphill path past a walking bridge in Palouse.
The team is involved in the Bigger, Faster, Stronger weight program that became popular in the 1980s. His coaches focus on the abdominal muscles.
His father, an ICU nurse at the hospital in Colfax, has also preached the importance of having a strong core.
Additional motivation comes from an inherent love of football.
“Running the football is literally the most fun thing to do in the whole world,” Hodges said.
Last year, he was a backup on offense but had his breakaway moments while gaining 800 yards.
“Every year I’ve taken on bigger and bigger responsibilities and I love it,” Hodges said.
His time has come and with a big turnout and more experience, he warns that Garfield-Palouse can be a team to reckon with.