Fullback ready again for workhorse role
LITHIA - While one player does not make a team, the impact one player has on a team can be immense. Just ask the Newsome Wolves. When Conner Powers went down with a season-ending knee injury midway through the 2009 season, Newsome's offense was more than just a little shaken. "We had to start passing the ball, and Newsome, we're not a passing team," Wolves coach Ken Hiscock said. "We're a running team because we have Conner Powers." The Wolves plan on getting back in their offensive comfort zone this season with a healthy Powers back in the fold. Newsome's standout fullback is fully recovered from the slight tear of the posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, and he's ready to again fill the workhorse role in the Wolves' Wing-T offense, the position he's held since entering the program as a freshman in 2007."I've been working harder and put in more work than ever this summer," Powers said. "I feel like I'm in the best shape that I've ever been in since coming into high school." Powers caught a bit of a break in the recovery process. The injury didn't require corrective surgery, and after his rehab sessions (twice a week for three months) went well he was able to return to the field for Newsome's spring workouts in May. That ended up being a huge step that could pay dividends this season. Powers, who averaged 102 yards and scored eight touchdowns in six games last season before the injury, admitted to being a bit tentative and cautious when he first got back on the field, especially with a constant visual reminder on the injury - the knee brace he now wears for support - with him on every move. Those feelings have now subsided, and he's ready to get back to the style of play that has earned him the reputation as one of Hillsborough County's most physical ball-carriers. Of the roughly 2,500 rushing yards Powers has compiled to date during his prolific high school career, most have come after bulldozing through an opposing tackler, much the way Mike Alstott did during his heyday with the Tampa Bay Bucs. It's the type of play that has drawn the admiration of everyone inside the Wolves program. "He never took the easy way out," Hiscock said of Powers, the Wolves' leading rusher each of the past three years. Added senior linebacker Joe Worth: "He epitomizes what Newsome football is all about." Newsome should be among the stronger Hillsborough County teams this season. The Wolves return a deep, experienced senior class that has been a part of district championship teams each of the past two years. "I think we can go as far as we want this year," Powers said. Powers wants to be an impact player leading the way, and his team would love nothing more. Just ask the Newsome Wolves.
Reporter Adam Adkins can be reached at (813) 259-7616.