• 46°

HS Football Tab: West Rowan’s big Hezikiah Banks

By David Shaw


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.





Catawba holds baccalaureate services for Class of 2021


$9M settlement for two men wrongfully sent to death row


China lands spacecraft on Mars in latest advance for its space program


Gas crunch hits Washington; Colonial Pipeline paid nearly $5 million in Bitcoin ransome


State mostly returns to normal operations after 15 months of lockdowns, restrictions


Blotter: Man accused of stealing car, crashing it


Man faces new charge of attempted murder for father’s shooting


Gov. Cooper lifts indoor mask mandate for most situations, gathering limits


Barnes gets new punishment of two life sentences in Tutterow couple’s 1992 murder

High School

High school football: State’s top honor goes to Jalon Walker


Scout’s Honor: With dedication of flag retirement box, Salem Fleming earns Eagle Scout rank


North Carolina king, queen of NCAA lacrosse tourneys


Kannapolis seniors walk elementary schools


Local real estate company employees come out in force to build Habitat house


Quotes of the week


Auditors find oversight lacking for $3 billion of state’s pandemic aid


When will gas situation return to normal?


Rowan native Shuping posthumously receives Concord Police Department’s Medal of Valor, Purple Heart


GOP measure on penalties for rioting draws fire


Black high school softball player told to cut hair


State shows 303 COVID-19 deaths in Rowan


CDC: Fully vaccinated people can largely ditch masks indoors


One arrested, another hospitalized in Castor Road stabbing

China Grove

China Grove Roller Mill open for tours Saturday