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FROM PRESS ROW: WORTH THE WAIT: LOOMIS HAS BEEN A SUPERSTAR FOR HORSEHEADS (2021-10-11)

Riley Loomis waited a long time for this chance.

The Horseheads senior has dealt with injuries, a shortened-Covid year, and waiting his turn, to get the chance to be the go-to-back for Horseheads.

Now that he has his opportunity, he’s showed everyone that it was worth the wait.

Horseheads is off to a 4-1 start this year. They are state ranked, and have accomplished things that haven’t ever happened before.

“It is pretty cool to look at that,” Loomis said of the state ranking. “And to see we are the only team in Horseheads ever to beat Elmira and Corning in the same season is pretty cool.”

Loomis has been a huge part to the success the Blue Raiders have had this year.

In five games this year, Loomis has run for 712 yards on 107 carries with nine touchdowns. That’s almost seven yards a carry and nearly two touchdowns and nearly 140 yards rushing each game for the Horseheads senior.

Horseheads coach Kevin Hillman knows just how special of a running back he has in Loomis.

“That’s the ting that makes a great back, one of the things is the yards after first contact, and, obviously, he has a ton of those, and then the ability to make things happen when sometimes it just isn’t blocked right,” Hillman said. “The vision he has and the explosiveness he has. He had one run down the sideline there, he dipped back in and he almost got the end zone. It was a great move and that’s just something you can’t teach and he has.

“I am going to enjoy these last however many games we have left. Hopefully it’s a lot more than the regular season with the playoffs, and hopefully we can get a run going. And, I’m going to enjoy every minute with him, because it’s going to be tough to replace somebody like that, you can’t do it.”

Getting to this year was a long time in the making for Loomis.

As a sophomore it looked like Loomis was primed for a big role with the Blue Raiders, when he tore his ACL in a scrimmage before the season.

While injuries like that can be tough to come back from, Hillman never questioned if Loomis would make it back this year.

“I’m super proud, just so happy for him,” Hillman said of his success. “I can still remember that scrimmage in Geneva when he tore his ACL and just how disheartening it was and the pit you had in your stomach and thinking about the poor kid and all the work he has to put in to come back. For him to do that and work as hard as he did and come back last year, and get his feet wet.

“I still don’t think at that time he was quite 100% and confident and stuff. He had the knee brace, but he kept working his tail off. I think that was important for him, he got that taste again, however many months it is laster he came back in the fall and he’s just been outstanding. Because of the type of kid he is and the work ethic he has, there was no doubt in my mind it was just how long it was going to take with the recovery, but it was 100% (that he’d make it back). There wasn’t a moment when you saw him that he didn’t tell you he was going to be back and he’d be fine.”

Last year Loomis was back, but still there were obstacles. He was still trying to get back to 100%, and then the season was shortened, and moved to the Spring, because of Covid. He split some carries, but waited his turn a bit as Ryan Scott had a big final year for the Blue Raiders.

“It was kind of both of us (Ryan and Riley carrying the ball last year), but mostly I was behind him,” Loomis said. “I was coming off that injury.  I was a little iffy, but this year I’m feeling great and I’m ready to get rolling.”

Loomis has waited forever for this year, a chance to be healthy, and have a full season.

“I couldn’t wait, that’s all I was looking for was a full season,” Loomis said. “I was hoping we could get something more back to normal and it’s good it was my senior year and not next year.”

If anyone questions how good Loomis has been this year, just go to any game and listen to opposing sidelines and fans.

Loomis hears it each game. Coaches yelling out to watch for him. Opposing students chanting overrated, or booing each time he touches the ball.

“It’s kind of funny when they keep cheering, I was saying keep going, keep pumping me up,” Loomis said.

Last year Loomis started to see defenses focus on him, but this year it’s happened all the time.

“Last year a little bit Corning started to key me and Ryan, but this year it seems like everybody is, and so are the crowds,” Loomis said.

For Loomis, all the extra attention just makes him focus that much harder in practice to be ready for defenses that are geared up to slow him down.

“It is fun, it definitely makes me push myself more during the week to prepare for them keying me,” Loomis said.

While Loomis has been dominant this year, going over 110 yards in four of the five games this year, he knows how much it helps having a great line in front of him.

“We have a great line, running behind that line is awesome because we have a lot of holes,” Loomis said.

At times it can be almost impossible for defenses to see Loomis coming. He gets low, the linemen are big and it’s a couple yards downfield before the defense even sees him.

“They stand up pretty much and I try and stay low,” Loomis said. ‘It seems like I get an extra couple yards from staying low.”

For Hillman, it’s been the perfect combination. A great line, and a running back with the ability to follow the line.

“He does a great job of staying low and keeping that low center of gravity and it’s a credit to those guys up front to,” Hillman said. “As great as Riley is, those guys do a great job of opening holes and making lanes for him to run through and letting him do his work at the next level. Kudos to them. His ability to stay low and bounce off tackles because of that is fantastic.”

The success he’s having, and the fact that there is a more normal season this year, is something Loomis believes will help get more colleges to see what he can do.

“I think with the full season, it definitely helps and I’m glad we are back full time,” He said.

When it comes to college Loomis will have a tough choice to make. He’s having a huge season. He’s been one of the best backs in Section 4, but he’s also one of the top defensive players at the linebacker position. On top of that he’s a baseball standout.

Next year Loomis would like to play sports in college, it’s just a choice that has to be made.

“I’m kind of either or, between baseball (and football), but I haven’t made a decision yet,” Loomis said.

The future can wait for Loomis, right now there is work to do for the Blue Raiders, including a huge matchup in two weeks, for homecoming when they take on Union-Endicott in a battle of state-ranked teams in Class A.

“I am excited,” Loomis said. “I can’t wait for that game, that’s one we have been waiting for the whole season. We are going to keep pushing to get better and be ready for them in a couple weeks.”

STSR FILE PHOTO



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