Some guys just get it.

They understand hard work and what it means to be a good teammate.

That’s how leaders emerge.

UPike’s Luke Atkinson gets it.

Adkinson is a 6 foot 2 260 pound junior defensive lineman.

Adkinson didn’t come in and start right away. He went to work and earned his spot on the team.

Though it doesn’t look like much, Adkinson hard work is paying off already. And in the opening game against Murray State Thursday night, he came up with a tackle.

The Bears fell to Murray State 59-20 Thursday night in the season opener.

Adkinson got in and had a tackle in the loss.

Why was that big because Adkinson earned his spot and playing time on the field. He could’ve gave up early in his career and quit or decided he wasn’t going to get playing time, but he didn’t. He earned his spot on the field.

“That’s the thing, it looks like they’re so many people ahead of you,” Adkinson said. “They’re so many older guys and you think you don’t have a shot and you want to give up, but what you do is, you go out on the scout team and your make your name there. Then you go on special teams as hard as you can and you will get noticed. No matter what, you will get noticed if you’re doing everything right and working hard and they will find a place for you on the field. Whether it’s on punt team or whatever, just go 110 percent and you’ll build up the ranks.”

The Bears fell to a Division I school in Murray State Thursday night, so it may look like the defense hasn’t improved, but that’s not the feeling in the locker room. The feeling is that this defense has improved a lot.

“It’s awesome,” Adkinson said. “Last year was coach A’s (defensive coordinator Dominic Anderson) first year, now we have a full year under our belt and we know what’s going on. Especially us older guys, this is my third year here, but it’s really clicking for us. We hit the offseason really hard. We had a lot of guys here this summer and we were able to pick up on some things. It feels like practice is going smoother. Everybody is ready and knows what’s going on instead of being lost out there at times.

“Now we got some people back this season, they’re going to be good and we got some of the guys who stepped up last year and they know what they’re doing,” Adkinson said. “That helps provide depth for us. We can rotate people in and still be on the same page. As a defense as a whole, it helped us out a bunch.”

Adkinson was a standout at Shelby Valley. He is a local player who embraced UPike and all of the outside teammates coming in to the community.

“It’s awesome playing here, especially being local,” Adkinson said. “Not only for you and yourself staying at home, but it’s great for the guys coming in because you get to show them around and be a friend to them and help them become familiar. Pikeville, Kentucky is an awesome place to be and it’s an awesome place to play football. I’m glad I decided to come to UPike and play. It’s a great program. People think it’s a small school, but we get treated like DI athletes. It’s just an awesome program.”

The Bears didn’t open the season the way the wanted. But that hasn’t derailed any of Adkinson’s goals or the team goals.

“For individual goals, I just want to better myself,” Adkinson said. “I just want to be solid for the team. I want to fit in wherever coach wants me, whether that’s starting or second string, I want to contribute to the team day-in and day-out. I want to bring a positive attitude every day to the field. Then for our team goals, of course, we want to win a conference championship and heck, why not a national championship.”

UPike (0-1) is scheduled to visit Reinhardt next Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

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