Eureka High School, led by head coach Jason Nichols, were district champions for the first time in 16 years with a 6-4 record in 2019. It was the first winning season for the school in football since 2013.
The Tornadoes return six players on each side of the football for the 2020 season. One of those is Braden Rucker who is expected to be one of the best lineman in 2A football this fall.
Rucker has great size at 6-foot-3 and 245-pounds at offensive and defensive line along with great weight room numbers. He benches 335, squats 415 and has a clean of 285. He is also in the 4.95 handheld range of 40-yard dash time.
Rucker earned all-league honors in each of the last two seasons as well as all-state honorable mention in 2019.
Rucker also features a 3.65 GPA in the classroom and his favorite subject is history. When he isn’t playing football he enjoys hunting and fishing. He plans on playing football at the next level and is seeing several looks from the Division II level.
Eureka athletes have experienced a little bit of everything over the last couple of seasons. Losing spring seasons due to COVID and two seasons ago having to play all their games away because of a June 2018 tornado that eliminated home games in 2018 because of the damage.
Eureka, who plays in 2A and the Tri-Valley League, opens up the 2020 season at home against Neodesha. We caught up with the all-state candidate below in the latest Q&A edition of Faces in Kansas.
This feature is presented by Home Bank and Trust Company. Proud to support Eureka High School Football.
Q&A w/ Rucker
How did you get involved in football?
I started playing flag football when I was in 2nd grade for the Eureka Recreation. I then started tackle in 4th grade. I fell in love with the game and played middle school and now high school.
What are your goals this season?
To be a leader on both sides of the ball, have an undefeated regular season, and to become district champions.
Do you guys have a shot to make a run this year?
I believe we do. We have a lot of talented upper-classmen returning and some young kids who I believe will step up and contribute to the overall success of the team.
What makes you such a force as a player?
I feel my size and strength, along with my aggression, power and my will to finish every play is a driving force.
What’s the atmosphere like to play football on Friday night for your school and town?
My sophomore year we did not have any homes games because of the June 2018 tornado that hit Eureka and the damage it caused to the football field and stadium. My junior year we had our first home game on Homecoming. The support the football team received that night and the rest of the season was awesome. I expect this year to be even better because our town is excited to have football back on Friday nights.
For anyone that hasn’t seen one of your games, why come to one?
I am very aggressive and love physical contact. I am very tough on the field and play both sides of the ball and never give up. I feel I am respectful to my coaches and teammates and I will do anything that is asked of me to help the team.
Who are other key players on your team?
Brennan Lowe is a senior and has been a 4-year starter at running back and linebacker. He is a tough dude who refuses to go down. Brent Escareno is also another senior that will be a big playmaker on both sides of the ball. Garrison Spoonts is a junior that plays safety and wide receiver and plays 100 miles an hour all the time. Overall, I have a great group of teammates that love to play football.
Favorite thing about football?
The physical contact and the one on one battle. I also enjoy the team competition the sport brings.
Do you play any other sports, tell us about that, what other positions do you play?
I have played basketball since second grade, and I am a post.
What is it like to play for your coach?
It is awesome. He is always bringing energy and supports all of our guys and loves every one of us.
What did you and the team do in the off-season to become better?
Starting in December 2019, I spent every Saturday working out in Salina at Sharp Performance Football Academy. I also trained at Omnicut Motivational Fitness in Wichita a couples times a week on my speed and power. I was also on a lifting program that I would do with my dad. Once summer started, and the team was able to start school activities, I spent 4 days a week working out with my team. I have always set goals and continued to progress every month.
What interest are you seeing at the next level and what are your plans?
I have talked with several Division II schools and have made several school visits to meet coaches and tour facilities. I would love to play football at the next level, and I feel that I have the ability and desire at the next level.
Favorite thing to do when you aren’t playing sports?
I like to lift, hunt and fish.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Having a good, productive job and being able to make a good living.
Favorite subject in school, what type of student are you, GPA?
My favorite subject is History. I am a good student, and I have a 3.65 GPA.
Who is your role model?
My dad. He helps and mentors me in everything. He is very supportive and holds me accountable on my workouts and continues to teach me life lessons.
Best place to eat in your town or the surrounding area?
One thing the average person wouldn’t know about you?
That I enjoy woodworking and building projects.
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