RIPLEY - Just a few days ago Kade Harrison was playing basketball in summer league action when a teammate launched a jump shot that careened off of the backboard and the rim. Before it could be turned into a defensive rebound, Harrison leaped by a defender and slammed the ball through the hoop one handed for the bucket.
In his last football game versus Ravenswood in the county rival matchup affectionately known as "The Hatchet Game", the athletic wideout out-jumped a Red Devil cornerback for a decisive touchdown in overtime to give the Vikings a 17-16 victory.
Is the senior student athlete strapping rocket-launchers on his calves?
"My vertical has improved over the last year. I have gotten a lot stronger and I have worked on overall quickness. I feel really good," said Harrison.
"I pride myself on being a good blocking receiver and getting stronger has helped me with that."
Ripley's two-sport dynamo has a unique skill set that can be applied to virtually any sport but Harrison focuses on basketball and football. At 6-3, 175, his long stride serves as a deceptive barrier for his speed. He has soft hands, moves well laterally and isn't afraid to go up for a tough catch over the middle.
He is tough and he plays with attitude and fire.
"I am really excited about football season. With Trevor Tucker healthy (QB) and Jake Martin in the backfield, we provide several challenges for a defense. Our offensive line has improved so much. Those guys are really working hard and you can see it in workouts," said Harrison.
"Coach (David) Tennant believes in us and we know we have the talent to be a playoff team."
Harrison believes that the offensive sets installed by Offensive Coordinator Kemp Kelly have helped him tremendously.
"For me, I feel like I am not having to think so much and I can just go out there and perform. I like the new offense."
As a junior for Coach Craig Harmon's Viking basketball team, Harrison averaged 16.2 points per game and set Ripley's single season and career shot blocking records. Harrison notched a devastating 34 blocks during 2012-'13 while grabbing 4.4 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game.
Harrison was an All Mountain State Athletic Conference performer on the hardwood.
On the gridiron, the pass catcher came back to the game as a junior after taking three years off from the game.
It didn't seem to matter as ole' number ten led the Vikings in most statistical receiving categories, even after starting quarterback Trevor Tucker went down with a knee injury early in the 2012 campaign.
Harrison caught 19 balls for 457 yards and six scores last season. Many of his catches were big plays, resulting in a gaudy 24.1 yards per catch average.
Page 2 of 2 - "I am a physical football player. I like to fight for the ball and I'm not afraid to go after it. I have worked on stuff like that in workouts with Trevor (Tucker)."
The Vikings stood at (5-5) last season under 10-year head coach Jimmy Frashier. This season, David Tennant has stepped in to lead the Vikings in the rugged Mountain State Athletic Conference.
"I really like coach Tennant. He wants to win badly and he could care less about expectations or that it is his first year. His enthusiasm is rubbing off on us," said Harrison.
Harrison could surly find a roster spot in either sport in the college ranks in 2014. With his size and skill set at wide receiver, he will get some next level looks this season.
Basketball for Harrison is an interesting collegiate prospect. He is a classic slasher with a nice 3-point stroke. At an athletic 6-foot-3, it still may be a stretch for him to play on the wing but with some improvement in ball handling, he could be a dangerous two-guard.
There is definitely a place for a young man with his upside and athletic skill set.
"I will definitely be playing sports in college. Right now I am just focused on my senior year and being the best I can be. I have a lot of work to do. It's going to be an exciting year."
You can see Kade and his teammates in action when the Parkersburg South Patriots roll into Death Valley for the season opener on August 30 at 7:30 p.m.