Sports

One heck of a player

Kingston Buccaneers running back Lou Hecker shows the potential of the Bucs football team this season. Hecker had 245 rushing yards against the Bainbridge Island Spartans in a preseason game on Friday, Sept. 10.  - Brad Camp/For the Herald
Kingston Buccaneers running back Lou Hecker shows the potential of the Bucs football team this season. Hecker had 245 rushing yards against the Bainbridge Island Spartans in a preseason game on Friday, Sept. 10.
— image credit: Brad Camp/For the Herald

KINGSTON — As Lou Hecker grew up, he knew he’d spend his Friday nights in high school on the gridiron. What he didn’t know was how critical his performance as a running back would be for the Kingston Buccaneers.

When Hecker crashed through the Bainbridge Spartans defense with 245 rushing yards in the preseason game on Sept. 10, he opened up a new possibility for the Bucs: a strong running game. It is an element in which head coach Dan Novick has placed high hopes for the season; one that may bury the past seasons’ records — 1-9 for each of the last two years — and create a new enthusiasm for football at Kingston.

Since the football program began, the coaches have tried to help players focus on more than passing. Assistant coach Scott McKay believes the game against the Spartans, which ended with a 34-31 Spartan victory, proves things are changing, because the Spartans might be the best team the Bucs face this year, he said.

“Being able to have our team pound through the team’s defense and run the ball is something I think (Novick) has wanted: a power team,” McKay said. “Lou had a heck of a game too, 245 yards is impressive for any football league.”

While the Bucs look forward to facing their first opponent of the regular season, the Olympic High School Trojans, on their home turf on Friday, Sept. 17, Hecker’s mental preparation also begins.

Hecker often has pre-game jitters that give way to excitement as kickoff nears, he said.

“I talk a lot of trash in my head before a game,” Hecker said. “It’s just one of the ways I’ve found help me gets ready for a night of football.”

Junior starting quarterback Sam Byers, a three-year veteran on the field, has noticed a change this year that will make the team a formidable opponent on the turf. He said there are more skilled players, resulting in an expanded playbook.

Some quarterbacks may have a difficult time giving up the ball, but with Hecker at his disposal to rack up the rushing yards, Byers is more than happy to hand it off.

“When we have a horse like Hecker things work out pretty well,” Byers said. “It’s like having our own Adrian Peterson on the team.”

Football has always been a part of Hecker’s life. When he was younger, the majority of his friends were also into the game. Even his father knew he was a player in the making, Hecker said.

“My dad basically told me I was going play, he even knew that I would be a running back,” Hecker said.

He is now a safety on the Bucs, but Hecker’s dedication to the game has not changed. Although the game against the Spartans was in the pre-season, the two-point loss still bothered him.

“That game kept going through my head,” said Hecker, who made two touchdowns against the Spartans. “I didn’t fall asleep until 4 a.m.”

Although at times his dedication makes it seem like football is all he does, Hecker finds time to relax as well, including his favorite pastimes: video games and fantasy football. His fantasy team might struggle this year because of a few choices he said he regrets, but his game on Xbox is a skill he can rely on.

Along with the new “Madden ’11” football game, Hecker’s game of choice is “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2,” he said.

“I will beat anyone at ‘Call of Duty,’” Hecker said. “You can quote me on that.”

With the preseason ending though, fantasy football and war games may have to be put aside, but hopes of a more competitive Buccaneers team is on the minds of everyone at Kingston.

One thing is for sure, Hecker will continue to work on his running game as safety and will continue to raise expectations, he said.

“If we play like we did against our game against the Spartans this will be a huge season for us,” Hecker said.

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