When Ryan Sample was a ninth grader, the multifaceted Cusick athlete was named best 1B freshman in the state by an 8-man football web site.
That was as a defender.
Last year he was a first-team All-Northeast 1B wide receiver. But as a harbinger of things to come, last year when pressed into duty at quarterback, Sample threw 14 touchdown passes including eight in one half of a game.
He’ll be quarterback full time this year as complement to running back and fellow junior, Derrick Bluff.
“They are our two fastest kids returning,” said Sonny Finley, coach of last year’s state runners-up.
Sample, Finley said, can throw or run, like his predecessor Tyler Edwards who passed for 22 TDs and rushed for 13.
This year’s team is faster, Sample said. “I don’t think we’ve ever had this fast a team.”
Speed is the product of a year-around program implemented by his coaches.
“We do plyometrics (drills that increase strength and speed by explosive muscle contractions, primarily through jumps and bounds) every day at practice,” he said. “We do weights. It’s all supposed to help you jump higher and also makes your legs stronger. I feel a lot faster.”
How important is such speed training?
“It is big because there are six less people on the field,” Sample said. “Once you get to the corner it’s pretty much a big gain.”
Still, although he’s fast, Sample said he would prefer to stay in the pocket and throw out of a shotgun offense for touchdowns than run for them. But if things break down he will exploit his speed and run.
Last year’s trip to the Tacoma Dome was “a once in a lifetime thing,” Sample said.
The athlete who’s played pretty much everywhere during his football career, would like to make it twice in a lifetime.
“We want to get back and get the state title,” said Sample. “That’s our plan right now.”