RIPLEY - To hear him describe his reconstructed knee, Ripley senior quarterback Trevor Tucker conjures up images of the Six Million Dollar Man.   Tucker has been rebuilt, and he is perhaps stronger than before.  That should be good news for the Vikings in 2014, because they will lean heavily on their senior leader on both sides of the ball.

“My knee’s feeling really good,” Tucker said after a recent practice, “It feels better than when I had a real ligament in there.  There was a torn ACL and then a bucket handle tear on my meniscus.  They went and patched up the meniscus and took my patella tendon and threaded it up through to create a new, artificial ACL.  It feels really good.”
Tucker’s injury occurred near the end of the Vikings’ last game of the season, against the cross-county Ravenswood Red Devils, and left him eight rushing yards shy of becoming Ripley’s first ever 1,000 yard rusher/1,000 yard passer in the same season.  Coming so close to that record fuels Tucker, and he will look to shatter the mark this season.  Even with the injury, Tucker had a fantastic 2013 season, finishing with 992 rushing yards, averaging 6 yards a carry and nine touchdowns, and threw for 1,321 yards with 14 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.  And that’s not all.  Tucker is a true dual threat. He locks down opposing defenders as a defensive back for the Vikings, and is a feared hitter in the Ripley secondary. The only question is, which does he prefer?
“That’s a good question.  I’ve always been offensive minded because I’ve played that predominantly for two years,” Tucker said, “My brother started at linebacker last year, and I guess I just have that mentality of going to get the football and I like playing that position. I’d say that I’m more bred toward offense, but it’s a good change to get to play some defense, too.”  Tucker was referring to his older brother Nathan, who was a fixture in the middle of the Viking defense as a linebacker during his career.  Nathan is currently testing his skills on the field at the next level, playing football at the United States Coast Guard Academy.
While his physical skills definitely make him a force to be reckoned with for opposing teams, it’s the younger Tucker’s toughness that separates him from the pack.  He has a tremendous combination of speed and toughness, which is an absolute necessity when playing in arguably the most difficult conference in West Virginia high school football.  Week in and week out in the Mountain State Athletic Conference, Tucker is tasked with leading the Vikings’ spread offense against some of the stoutest defenses the state has to offer.  Tucker gets every ounce of energy and power out of his 5 foot 10 inch, 170-pound frame, using a straight ahead running style that doesn’t shy away from contact.  
“I just attack the football,” Tucker stated, “I guess it’s how I was raised, and that’s how I like to play football, and it’s how the coaches before and present taught me how to play.”
Given that Tucker has been at the forefront of the Viking attack for three years now, it should come as no surprise that he has the unshakeable faith of his coaches and teammates.
“Trevor has a lot of natural ability and he plays the game with great passion,” said Viking Head Coach David Tennant, “He earned a lot of respect with his play last year.  He played hurt and never complained once.  The other players see that and know that, no matter what, he’s got their back.”

In talking with Tucker, it’s clear that he feels exactly the same way about his teammates and coaches.
“Those guys in there are like my family, I’d do anything for them,” Tucker said, regarding his teammates and coaches, “When I get out there on that field, I just want to try to do everything I can to make the team successful. It’s not even a question for me in my mind to play hard and put the team on my back and try to win games.”
Tucker’s positive mindset is very important for the Vikings, who are coming off a 2-8 season.  For what it’s worth, Tucker certainly doesn’t lack confidence. He knows that if he plays the way he is capable of playing and can stay healthy, he can put up the type of numbers that will place him in the top tier of the MSAC quarterbacks.  Even so, Tucker is the consummate team player. When discussing the expectations he has for this season, he quickly puts the team first.  His number one goal is to improve his already tremendous leadership.
“I would like to become more of a leader this year,” Tucker said, “Stats–yards, touchdowns, interceptions, they’re all important.  But predominantly, I want to be a more vocal and lead by example this year.”   He then turned his attention to his goals for the team.
“I want to win a lot of games,” Tucker concluded, “I want to make this school proud, and I have a lot of school pride, and I think that the football season starts off the year and I would like to see the town and the school do well.”
One thing is clear, the 2014 version of the Ripley Vikings are in safe hands with Tucker at the helm, and they’ll go as far as his arm (and legs) will take them.  And if it’s up to him, don’t be surprised if the Vikings take a big step forward this season.