Nate Roberts was a tackling machine last season for Pike Central.
Roberts returns for his senior season with the Hawks.
As a junior, he led the Hawks with 117 total tackles. He had 57 solo tackles and 60 assisted tackles. Roberts also had five tackles for a loss and a team-high two sacks.
Roberts gets to the ball quick and hits hard.
“I love physicality,” Roberts said. “A lot of people do for us, especially on the defensive side of the ball. We’re not scared to hit somebody and that’s always the best part about football.”
Last season, the Hawks finished with a 3-8 record.
Pike Central was young and kept improving throughout the season.
The Hawks return a lot on both sides of the ball and expect a big improvement this season.
“We’re looking forward to the season and think that compared to last season, we’ll do really good,” Roberts said. “We have a lot of returning people. We have a lot of strong linemen up front and a talented backfield.”
Roberts led the defense last season. It seemed like he was in on every tackle.
“On the defensive side we had a good year last season,” Roberts said. “We really had good run defense. Bringing a lot of people back on defense, we all know how to set the tone and how everybody else is supposed to play. We know we can make plays on the ball.”
Eric Ratliff is entering his fourth season as Pike Central head coach.
The players know what to expect from Ratliff and that has made this offseason go a little smoother for the Hawks.
“He expects a solid defense and a nice cut-throat offense,” Roberts said. “He expects us to run the ball and expects us to stop the ball on a dime (on defense).”
The Hawks compete in Class 3A Region 4 District 8.
After re-alignment, District 8 is a five-team district. Besides Pike Central, the district consists of Belfry, Floyd Central, Lawrence County and Magoffin County.
“It’s a big deal (to make the playoffs), especially in the 3A district that we are,” Roberts said. “It’s always a tough district and region for us. We have to make it through by making big plays every game.”
Roberts has set some high goals for himself this season, but ultimately just wants the team to be successful.
“I’d like to have another back-to-back 100 tackle season this year,” Roberts said. “I want to be a really good leader on defense and make sure I do my part to see this team come out on top.”
Pike Central will open the season Friday, August 23 at home against Prestonsburg at 7:30 p.m.
The Hawks will follow by taking on Shelby Valley at 6:00 p.m. at Hillard Howard Field Saturday, August 31 in the 35th Annual Community Trust Bank/WYMT Pike County Bowl.