KINGWOOD — The Preston High Knights (1-0) opened their football season on the right foot — with a win over Hampshire High, 22-13, Aug. 24. A big portion of their success was halfback Jesse Gribble, who galloped for 148 yards and two touchdowns on just 20 carries.
Knights’ head coach Jonathan Tennant admitted that Gribble wasn’t a big part of the plan during their game preparation, but saw something and adjusted to use him more in the second half.
“We had some concerns in the preseason that Jesse was running with his pads too high, so we weren’t sure how he’d do,” he said. “But turns out he listened to us, dropped his pads and just started running over people. So, we just kept giving him the ball.”
As they say, “Film doesn’t lie,” and like any good football player worth his salt, Gribble turned to the tape to help him adjust his running style.
“I watched myself getting over powered by other players. I had to make a change to keep improving,” he said. “I worked on it some after practices and the coaches gave me tips on how to keep myself low and said I was going to get myself hurt if I didn’t change it.”
The 5foot-10, 190-pound junior made his debut as the premiere rusher for the Knights with a 7.4 yard-per-carry average and despite the initial hesitation to form the game plan around him, Tennant said he saw the potential Gribble possessed.
“He’s a pretty strong kid. He’s starting to figure out that he’s our go-to guy in the backfield,” Tennant said. “He grew up a lot Friday night. A lot of our kids did. He was one of the main ones that showed up and played and it’s something I think he’ll continue to do throughout the year.”
Part of the confidence Tennant has in Gribble can be attributed to his running back’s leadership skills that coach said he displayed “ever since January when we went into the weight room and he was leader at Camp Dawson, the four days we spent down there.”
Gribble has accepted that leadership role and said, “it’s an honor” to be in that position and said he enjoys it more than his defensive duties as a safety because he’s played running back most of his life and it comes more natural to him.
The Knights may have a harder time breaking through the line as they host North Marion tonight and Tennant knows he can rely on Gribble once again, but it may not be as easy this time around.
“It depends on what the defense is giving us,” Tennant said about using Gribble more often. “It’s good to have that option. We know we can do it now, but North Marion is going to be a little tougher up front than Hampshire was. It’s going to be a tougher test for us this week.”
North Marion defeated the visiting Preston Knights last season, 41-19.