Rice to start for Bucs
ELKINS — Buckhannon-Upshur High School senior Ilan Rice is no stranger to Wimer Stadium, where he visited over the weekend to help represent the Buccaneers for The Inter-Mountain’s upcoming football preview guide,
The Bucs have made it into the tough Class AAA playoff pool several times of late, and are looking to make another run this year as Rice and his teammates are now in their second week of August practices at Freal “Red” Crites Stadium.
“Football is all about my teammates, my brothers,” Rice said. “It’s not so much about myself, it’s about going out there and fighting alongside my brothers and trying to help them win. We have a good time, but it’s a lot of hard work.”
Rice will be available for offensive duties if needed at the wide receiver spot, but says he is more of defensive player at heart, playing the inside and outside linebacker positions.
“Putting time into strength and conditioning is absolutely everything,” he said. “My sophomore year I was the second string JV linebacker. I worked my butt off in the weight room during the off season, and my coaches noticed that. I became a starter on varsity my junior year because of those workout sessions. Our coaches really stress the importance of the weight room to us for sure.”
Rice was very complimentary of his fellow Buckhannon-Upshur team members, saying the first week of practices went very well for the Buccaneers squad.
“It’s probably the best group yet that I have played with in high school,” he said. “It’s a really hard-working and focused group this year. I think everyone understands the kind of time we need to invest and the work we have to do to get back to the state playoffs.”
Rice has been wearing the Bucs’ colors on the gridiron since his early days at B-U Middle, where he first started playing football as a sixth-grader. Looking back now as a senior, he said the experience has been amazing for him.
“It’s really, really amazing and a special thing to play football at Buckhannon-Upshur for me,” he added. “I came in and started trying to play football for the first time in sixth grade, and hadn’t played any Pop Warner or youth league. I was terrible at it, and was terrible through about my sophomore year.
“To now be able to step up and represent my school and my community while playing football is really something very special to me.”