While we've been working on featuring top athletes, juniors and seniors around the state through Faces in Kansas over the last seven high school sports seasons, something we've decided to do is highlight underclassmen, freshman and sophomore, from time to time. In this edition of Faces in Kansas Underclassmen we go to Junction City, Kansas where Russell Wilkey is just 15 years of age as he enters his sophomore football season at Junction City High School, a Class 6A program in the Centennial League.
He was an immediate impact player as a 14-year old last fall for the Bluejays in starting at running back, not something you hear of every day at a large high school in Kansas. The 5-foot-10, 163-pounder, rushed for over 900 yards and had 12 touchdowns as a freshman as the Bluejays went 6-4 under longtime head coach Randall Zimmerman. He earned offensive player of the year from his high school team along with all-league honors.
Wilkey was also a state qualifier in wrestling as a freshman last winter and started all 22 games for the Junction City baseball team. There’s not much that he won’t do.
“I wish I could play every sport there is because I am a competitive person. I give 110% no matter what I am doing.” Wilkey said.
While Wilkey may have already seen a lot of success with three years remaining, right now he just wants to enjoy high school and play without worrying about plans at the next level. He boasts a 3.7 GPA as a student.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to play at the next level, but while I’m still in high school I am going to stay focused, enjoy it, and my hardest each and every day.” Wilkey said.
Junction City returns nine starters on offense and four starters on defense from last years squad and Wilkey will be one of the top sophomores returning in the state. Junction City opens up the 2018 campaign at home on Friday against Hays. We caught up with the sophomore in Kansas that you need to know about below.
Q&A w/ Wilkey
How did you get involved in football?
I got involved in football when I was in the 3rd grade, my dad put me in my first year of tackle and ever since then I have loved it. I have always had a love for the game.
What are your goals this season?
My team goal is to win a lot of games and just have fun, my personal goals are 1,500+ rushing and 15+ touchdowns.
Do you guys have a shot to make a run this year?
Yes, I think we have a good shot because we have a good team bond and we are willing to do whatever it takes to win.
What makes you such a force as a player?
I am just very competitive, and I want to win and be the best player on the field
What’s the atmosphere like to play football on Friday night for your school and town?
The atmosphere in Junction City is absolutely amazing, everyone in the stadium is electric and they love to see their hometown team win.
For anyone that hasn’t seen one of your games, why come to one?
They should come watch because I go 110% every snap of the game, and I never give up.
Who are other key players on your team?
Offense- Sr QB Rooster Adams, Sr OL Jacob Smith, Jr WR Ethan Alcorn, Sph QB Andrew Khoury, Jr RB Christopher Randolph,
Defense- Sr DL Nolan Rothfuss, Sr Mlb Baylor Wilkey, Olb jr Albert Caba, Sr CB/SS Tez Brime,
Our whole team is really good I’m really excited
Favorite thing about football?
The bonds that I have with my teammates, winning games, and hearing the crowd roar.
Do you play any other sports, tell us about that?
I was a state qualifier for wrestling, and I also started all 22 games on our Varsity baseball team. I wish I could play all of the sports because I love competing
What is it like to play for your coach?
It is amazing to play for Coach Zimmerman because he trust his players, and he is a wise man. My favorite things about him is that he teaches up how to be responsible, respectable young men. And off the field he is a great person to talk to about life.
What did you and the team do in the off-season to become better and plans to get better this summer?
We worked out as a team every day and just put in work together, and we were always there for each other when anyone of us needed it
What interest are you seeing at the next level and what are your plans?
It’s always been a dream of mine to play at the next level, but while I’m still in high school I’m going to stay focused and keep working my hardest each and every day.
Favorite thing to do when you aren’t playing sports?
I love spending time with family and friends, and I enjoy going to bible studies and church
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In 10 years, I see myself finishing college and starting a career
Favorite subject in school, what type of student are you, GPA?
My favorite subject in school is U.S. History. I go to school every day, and I maintain a 3.7 or above GPA
Who is your role model?
My role model is Ty Zimmerman because he is an amazing person at heart and strong with faith and an overall great person.
Best place to eat in your town or the surrounding area?
Coach’s Grill & Bar. They have AMAZING cheese burgers and mashed potatoes
One thing the average person wouldn’t know about you?
Probably my age (lol). I just turned 15. People always think I am a lot older because I have a beard.
Anything else to add?
I love going on vacations with my family and just having fun. I am extremely blessed with the family and friends that I have. I would do anything for them.
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