Local Sports, Preston, Sports

Preston’s Ethan Likens is bigger, stronger entering sophomore season

KINGWOOD — “Nothing great in this world has ever been accomplished without passion.” 

When German philosopher Georg Hegel uttered his most famous quote, he probably wasn’t talking about high school football. After all, he was German, and he died in 1831 — but that fundamental truth about the human condition echoes to this day. 

Last year, Ethan Likens, a 14-year-old freshman middle linebacker and fullback for Preston, all 171 pounds of him, entered his first varsity preseason camp wanting one thing more than anything else. 

“He wanted to start, right from Day 1,” PHS head coach Mark Deep said. “You couldn’t help but notice him on the field, flying around, 100% effort in every drill, every snap. Ethan is one of those kids who might get beat bad on one play, then comes back with a tackle for loss on the next. By the end of the year, he was in there every snap.” 

So, what’s it like for a just-turned teenager to be going through on-the-job training against mature veterans preparing for college? 

“It was pretty … interesting,” Likens said. “Everyone was so much bigger and faster and better compared to middle school. Varsity football? It’s like a completely different sport. Plus, we were learning a new system, so everything was kind of coming at you super-fast. It was great.” 

Great? OK, great.

Of course, there was also another issue with Likens’ baptism of fire. 

“Any time you have a freshman playing varsity, you have to be very aware of protecting their health,” Deep said. “It takes a toll on your body, and we made sure he didn’t take on too much too soon.” 

Fast-forward to December, after the uniforms were returned to storage — a tough decision awaited. 

“I was a pretty successful wrestler in middle school, and I had to decide if I wanted to continue,” Likens said. “But wrestlers are always trying to shed weight, and if there was anything I learned on the football field in the fall, it was that I needed to add weight, and get bigger and stronger.  That wasn’t going to happen in wrestling.” 

So, quicker than you can say “German philosopher,” Likens became, at least for the time being, an ex-wrestler and an even more dedicated football player — and one that added 20 pounds of muscle and explosiveness as well. 

“It’s been great working with coach (Dave) Fox, our strength coach,” Likens said. “He’s taught us correct lifting techniques, healthy habits, and keeps us motivated and positive. And I really think it will pay off for us this year. I’d love to break the school record for tackles in a season, because I know that will help us be successful. I can’t wait to get started.” 

Georg would be proud.     

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