RIPLEY - Ripley senior wide out Alex Hambrick has been waiting a long time for this moment.  With the departure of standout Kade Harrison, Hambrick will assume the role as the primary target in the Viking’s passing game in 2014.
“We can only go up from last year,” Hambrick said after a recent practice, “I feel like we’ll be a lot better.”
The thing is, Hambrick hasn’t been idly biding his time, he’s been working and preparing for it, which hasn’t escaped the attention of his coaches and teammates.
“We worked a lot harder throughout the offseason,” Hambrick added, “We’ve all been getting a lot stronger.”
By all accounts, Hambrick really stepped into a leadership role during summer workouts, working to not only get himself ready for the season, but his teammates as well.  It’s that “all-in” mentality that Hambrick hopes will pay dividends once the season begins.
“Mainly, it was to get the most people in the weightroom that we could,” Hambrick said, “That was the only way we were going to get better in the offseason.”
Hambrick’s taking on of an increased role should come as no surprise to anyone who watched him put the work in this summer and so far in the preseason.   Last season, Hambrick played primarily on special teams and started as a defensive back, and he will continue to play those positions this season, with the added responsibility of stretching the field vertically on offense.  While the Viking run game will be solid this season, it will be up to Hambrick and the rest of the receiving corps to keep defenses honest through the air and take some pressure off of quarterback Trevor Tucker and the rest of the offense.
Individually, Hambrick doesn’t lack confidence.  While he’s not the target Harrison was in terms of height, Hambrick has a long frame and good speed, and at 5 foot 11 and 182 pounds, he has the bulk to outmuscle defensive backs for position.  In terms of what he expects to accomplish this year, Hambrick was straightforward in his goals.
“Catch a lot of passes, and score a lot of touchdowns,” Hambrick answered quickly.
As for his team, Hambrick knows that he and his teammates will be able to call back to the work they’ve already put in when things get tough this season.  It will be very interesting to see how well the Vikings hold up to their difficult schedule, as they will face several tough challenges throughout the season.  One thing is clear, though.  Hambrick and his teammates are confident that they will be able withstand and overcome these obstacles, precisely because of they’ve worked out and grown together.  This togetherness and hard work has given Hambrick and his team a great deal of confidence going into the season.
 “I feel a lot better this year than last year,” Hambrick said, “The whole team does. I wholeheartedly believe that we will do better this season.”