Coming into his senior year, Bobby Adams wanted to make an impact. He’d played some defensive back for the Hermiston Bulldogs, added a few carries at running back, but he’d always wanted more.
“To be the best,” Adams plainly stated. “To put forward what no one at Hermiston has ever been able to put forward as far as rushing goes.”
The expectations for himself were mountainous, but with one game left to play in Hermiston’s football season, the tailback has fulfilled them. Through seven games, the 5-foot-7 runner is in record-breaking mode, having rushed for better than 1,400 yards and 15 touchdowns, including five straight 200-yard performances. Those numbers have catapulted him into the top spot for rushing yards in the state of Oregon — at any level.
And teammates have taken notice.
“It’s been years since Hermiston has had a runner like that,” wide receiver Alex Ortiz said. “He changes directions faster than I’ve ever even seen.”
“I’ve seen explosive running backs before, but none quite like him,” said one of Adams’ main blockers, left tackle Tate Gabriel.
Hermiston coach Mark Hodges said that last attribute — Adams’ football smarts — is the source of his senior-season success, but that took work, too.
“I just think he matured a lot more over the last year,” Hodges said. “I think he had to learn what it actually means to be a good tailback, not just a quick guy who can run around and make people miss, but acutely what it means to carry the load.”
Coaches worked with Adams on his footwork, boosting his quickness and his ability to hit holes faster and extend runs longer.
The work paid off. Adams’ new workhorse status — he averages close to 30 touches per game — has driven the team to an undefeated 2-0 record in league play and the cusp of a Columbia River Conference title. The Bulldogs remain tied with Pendleton for the conference lead following Friday’s 55-14 win over Hood River Valley, setting up a winner-take-all matchup with the Buckaroos this week.
Despite the accolades and despite the growing attention the Hermiston athlete receives, he refuses to take too much credit, constantly redirecting praise to his line and the rest of his teammates.
“The offensive line has really set it off,” Adams interjected over a question about his contribution to the offense.
That’s just the kind of guy Adams is, noted Gabriel, a senior. His appreciation for a good block is refreshing.
“We know what we have to do in order to make him successful and he knows what he has to do in order to make us successful,” Gabriel said.
Their symbiotic relationship has created a rushing monster, gobbling up yards at seven per carry. His coach thinks he can perform even better, though.
Better than his five touchdowns against the Dalles two weeks ago. Maybe even better than the 300 yards he dropped against Hood River Valley on Friday.
Hodges calls many of his early games this season borderline C-plus, B-minus contests.
The ceiling on Adams remains high, he added, and much of that potential is yet untapped.