When you’re talking UPike football, X is heavily involved in the offense.
X isn’t a play in this case, though.
X is Xondre Willis.
The Belfry product is entering his final season as a Bear.
Willis led the Bears in rushing last season with 1,074 yards and eight TDs on 165 carries.
Willis rushed for a team-high 1,007 yards and six TDs during his sophomore campaign.
During his freshman season he rushed for 283 yards and two TDs.
In his career, Willis has amassed 2,364 yards with 16 TDs.
“We got the full line back,” Willis said. “Those guys are veterans and we’re excited to be back. Everybody who is playing is really experienced, so we’re just excited to see how we do.”
The run game has been successful in Willis’ career at UPike, but the passing game is just as effective.
“We’re going to do what works, but when I’m playing well, it’s going to open things up for the receivers,” Willis said. “When they’re playing well, it’s going to open things up for me, so everything just goes hand-in-hand really.”
Back in the backfield with Willis is starting senior quarterback Bowen Smith.
The two have a chemistry and trust built up over their time at UPike.
“He’s (Bowen Smith) been here for four years, so he knows what’s going on,” Willis said. “He knows the offense like the back of his hand. We trust him and we know he’s going to ride for us.”
UPike is known for its high-powered offense.
That offense sets a quick pace and puts up a lot of points on the scoreboard.
“The offense is fun to run,” Willis said. “It’s hard to defend. We like the fast pace and that’s the way we like to play.”
The Bears are hoping the defense will be at full strength this season.
That could help UPike have a successful season.
“We’ve got Mr. T (Taeron) Brown back at safety, so I’m feeling confident about the defense,” Willis said. “We’ve got a lot of guys coming in who are going to play a big role in the defense, so I’m excited to see how they do.”
There is only one goal for the Bears this season.
“The goal is to win,” Willis said. “I’m just going to go have fun. This is my last year, so I just really want to soak it in, but the goal is always just to win.”
UPike will open the season Thursday, August 29 at 7:00 p.m. at Murray State University.