• 61°

HS Football Tab: West Rowan’s big Hezikiah Banks

By David Shaw

sports@salisburypost.com

MOUNT ULLA — If you liked what you saw from Hezikiah Banks last season, you’re going to love him this year.

The West Rowan offensive lineman has added 40 pounds of beef to a frame that was already formidable — and he’s ready to throw his weight around.

“Mama’s home cooking,” the 6-foot-4, 335-pound senior said with a broad grin following a recent practice. “And training. Actually I didn’t play the whole basketball season this past year, so I picked up and lost some weight. I was 350 in May, but I’ve lost a few pounds.”

Banks is expected to anchor a seasoned offensive line that includes four seniors and junior Javon Lofton. He’s trying to make a seamless transition from right tackle to left tackle — as Jacob Radke’s heir apparent — and will be entrusted to protect quarterback Kacey Otto’s blind side.

“This is almost the same line we had in our eighth-grade year,” Banks said. “That team went undefeated. This line is good at everything and we go all-out.”

Banks, a third-year starter, was an all-county pick in 2014 despite being plagued by a recurring toe injury. West still went 8-5 overall, cracked the 40-point barrier five times and reached the second round of the state playoffs. “He’s always been a big key to our team,” said teammate K.J. Wilson, West’s new right tackle. “When he blocks, we win. He’s best at blocking, blocking down and making the play.”

That’s never been a problem for Banks, a mauler who clears holes wide enough to drive the team bus through. And while it isn’t easy to get new coach Joe Nixon’s undivided attention, Banks has already earned a seal of approval.

“He’s a big, athletic kid,” Nixon said. “He’s done a good job in the weight room and he carries the weight well. It’s a good-looking 330 pounds.”

It appears Banks and his line mates — Lofton, Wilson, guard Jeremy Fortson and center Shane Barber — have bought into Nixon’s sagacious, team-first philosophy. “The offensive line doesn’t work like that. To be a great line, all five of them have to be able to work together,” said Nixon, a former standout on Catawba’s offensive line. “That’s what we’ve been preaching. If these five guys play together, we’ve got a chance to be pretty good.”

Banks understands. A New York native who relocated with his family seven years ago, he’s the unofficial leader of West’s man-sized line. He’s already installed a doctrine that should lead the Falcons back into the postseason. “It’s all about going hard on every play,” he said. “Everybody’s got to do their job — and their job is to give everything they’ve got. If we all do that, we’ll be all right.”

Some prominent college programs have taken notice. Banks has been offered a scholarship to join East Carolina’s program, while UNC, Wake Forest, N.C. State and Georgia Southern have shown luke-warm interest. “It’s exciting,” he said. “But honestly, I’ll play anywhere they offer me a chance to play and get an education.”

In the meantime Banks will focus on playing above-and-beyond his potential beginning Friday night.

“In our offense, we’ve got to establish a running game,” Nixon said. “We’ve got great offensive skill. If we can get that offensive line to mesh, we’re going to be pretty good.”

Count on Banks to do his part.

 

 

Comments

Elections

NC elections board, Republicans at odds over absentee ballot rule changes

News

Voters struggling with witness rules in early voting

News

Trump expected to announce conservative Amy Coney Barrett for Supreme Court

Coronavirus

County reports COVID-19 percent positive rate of 8%

Local

Rowan County United Way sets $1.5 million goal at drive-in kickoff event

Crime

Blotter: Adult daughters accused of beating up mother

China Grove

China Grove firefighters injured after engine overturns

Business

Salisbury VA to reopen entry, exit gates

Crime

Sheriff’s Office looking for suspect in Burlington Coat Factory theft

Elections

Requests for absentee ballots top 9,000 in Rowan

Local

Spencer approves supplemental USDA loan for Park Plaza project

Business

11 locals will make up Empire Redevelopment Task Force

Local

New finance director excited to prove himself, continue on path set by predecessor

Coronavirus

County health officials report four new COVID-19 deaths

Elections

Trump promotes health care ‘vision’ at stop in Charlotte but gaps remain

Crime

Blotter: Woman charged with stealing mom’s dog

Business

Rowan County hires Howden as new finance director

Local

Exhibit about Jim Crow-era travel on display at NC Transportation Museum

Elections

GOP elections board members resign over absentee settlement

Crime

Drive-by shooting injures 24-year-old Salisbury man

Crime

Highway Patrol: Vehicle fled after striking, killing pedestrian on Camp Road

Local

Locals to be inducted into NC Military Veterans Hall of Fame

Business

Fall fun, with a twist: Patterson Farm adjusts to guidelines, offers new version of traditional events

Nation/World

Sayers, Piccolo friendship lives on in ‘Brian’s Song’