Brock Netter, Staff Writer
FRANKFORT — It’s one thing to have a supreme level of talent on a team. It’s another thing to see that talent perform and flourish on the field.
The fact that Adena had completely reloaded wasn’t a secret heading into this fall. The Warriors featured a jam-packed senior class that was filled with experience and a hunger to make school history.
The team had playmakers at every position on both sides of the ball. But the straw that stirred the drink was senior Preston Sykes.
Whether it was offensively under center or defensively as a ballhawk in the secondary, all Sykes did was believe his instincts and make plays.
“I never really thought of myself as a certain position type of player. I just thought of myself as a football player and just trusted my God-given abilities,” Sykes said.
In doing so, Sykes and his classmates finished 25-15 in their four years at Adena. But keep in mind that eight of those 15 losses came during the group’s freshman year.
Since then, the Warriors have went 23-7, which includes two trips to the playoffs. But they truly saved their best season for last by convincingly winning a Gold Ball in 2020, followed by seizing their first two playoff wins in school history.
“Truthfully, I think the biggest moment for us was when we could finally just breathe after Governor DeWine gave the go ahead to play,” Sykes said. “That next scrimmage, I could tell we just had a certain attitude to us, and we continued to grow each week after that. We kept that chip throughout the season and made history.
“Winning the SVC and both playoff games was so surreal. With how weird the season was, it felt like it happened so quick I could barely react. But it all just felt like a dream come true.”
Buoyed by a talented offensive line and difference makers across the board, Sykes completed 51-of-83 passes for 875 yards and 12 touchdowns. And just for good measure, he added 93 carries for 807 yards and 16 additional rushing scores.
And defensively, he piled up 49 tackles, five tackles for a loss, three interceptions and two defensive touchdowns.
Although Sykes garners a ton of headlines for his play-making abilities, he’s quick to deflect credit and give it to his teammates who have pushed him, even through a pandemic, to be at his peak.
“I’ve had many great teammates and coaches that have molded and helped guide me to this point. They know who they are, I could go on and on about how great they’ve been. I just don’t think it would all fit into one article,” Sykes said. “But one person I’d like to shoutout is Nate Throckmorton. During the lockdown, we’d workout all the time together and we both just had the same common goal in mind and helped each other to get there.”
The numbers show that Sykes did it all on the gridiron. He earned recognition as the SVC’s Defensive Player of the Year and as the Division VI Southeast District co-Defensive Player of the Year, although an argument could be made he was an Offensive Player of the Year candidate as well.
Surely, he’ll earn All-Ohio status when those honors are released. But for the time being, he can add another award to his mantle: SOSA’s co-Football Player of the Year.
This Adena senior class, led by Sykes, will go down as one the greatest classes in school. Just look at its accomplishments.
And while the individual awards are great for Sykes, he’s focused on the hope that his class laid a foundation and set a new standard for what Adena football should represent moving forward.
“I just hope we set the bar. It shouldn’t matter the talent you have or what circumstances you’re in,” Sykes said. “Adena football should be tough, physical, fast, and competing every year for an SVC title. Take pride in your school and town. It will go farther than just football.”