Senior hopes to leave his struggles behind

Jason Eury had never played a snap at quarterback before last year.

He wasn't forced to a new position, instead the then-junior rose up to the challenge and filled the empty spot for Hickory Ridge.

"It was what the team needed," said Eury. "That's all I cared about."

The natural wide receiver's inexperience showed for the Ragin' Bulls, going 34-for-85 throwing for 322 throwing yards, one touchdown and eight interceptions.

"I just never felt comfortable out there," said Eury. "I feel like I did all right considering I was a first-timer at the varsity level."

Although he wasn't doing as well as he wanted on the field, it wasn't because of a lack of effort. Eury regularly stayed after practice to work on his footwork, his throwing technique and to get a rhythm with his running back and receivers.

"That was the hardest part," said Eury.

Hickory Ridge coach Marty Paxton said it was tough for him to watch a selfless player like Eury struggle.

"We put him in an uncomfortable situation, but he did the absolute best he could do," said Paxton. "He gave everything he had every week."

Paxton explained that he was impressed with how Eury took the hardships of playing a brand new position.

"It's not easy to do what he did," said Paxton. "You wish you had more kids like him, who just want the team to be better."

Eury is back at wide receiver this season.

"That's where I'm good at - that's where I feel like I can help my team the most," said Eury.

Knowing junior quarterback Nick Tyson, who was brought up to relieve Eury in the last three games of the varsity season last year, would get the starting nod this season, Paxton approached Eury about moving back to receiver last winter.

"His answer was an astounding yes before I could even finish my question," he said.

"We wanted him to be back where he's comfortable, where he can personally be successful. We're still doing what's best for this team because as a receiver he's going to help us a ton."

The 6-foot-1 Eury should provide Tyson a reliable target. Eury, who was unanimously selected as a team captain by his teammates, said he and Tyson have a good chemistry on the field, having played together on the JV team two years ago.

Eury, who Paxton said stands out because of his physical style, is playing as a hybrid slot receiver, which requires him to carry the ball in certain situations.

The 18-year-old said he has had a relatively smooth transition to that role.

"It felt different at the beginning - it felt weird to actually be running," said Eury.

Having lost tailback Brian Baltimore to graduation, Hickory Ridge will depend more on Eury and the passing game.

Eury said he's worked on his speed and conditioning in the offseason, hoping to stand out this year and get some college looks.

He also wants his team to rebound well after a disappointing 5-7 season, explaining that the Ragin' Bulls' hustle could go a long way in making sure that happens.

Being one of nine seniors on the team, Eury said he feels a lot pressure to perform at his natural position.

"I think I can rise to the occasion," he said.