Comment about Train’ Hicks backfires

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 6, 2000

John Hicks’ engine was running hotter than usual on Friday night.

The Warren Central junior got all the fuel he needed when he saw the paper that afternoon.

“He’s not that big of a factor,” Vicksburg High linebacker Steven Caldwell said of Hicks in The Vicksburg Post on Friday.

“That really pumped me up,” said Hicks, a bruising 230-pound fullback. “I took it personally.”

And he took it out on the Gators with his best game of the season, finishing with 138 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries.

“It doesn’t take much to motivate John,” WC coach Robert Morgan said of his fiery fullback. “The only person that can really stop John is John.”

Hicks came out of the gate strong, ripping off runs of 20 and 27 yards in the Vikings’ first scoring drive before finishing it off with a 1-yard score.

“I hollered at him when I ran over him, who’s not a factor,’ ” Hicks said with a smile. “Saying that was the biggest mistake he made.”

Hicks, who can be heard hissing as he runs, sounds “like a freight train the old-timey kind,” Morgan said.

He runs like one, too. Hicks likes nothing more than to break into the secondary and see a cornerback or safety bracing to tackle him. He doesn’t try to go around them. He just lowers his shoulder and tries to deliver the first lick.

“I want to crush them, step on them, and keep going,” Hicks said.

He often does just that. The first person to catch him hardly ever makes the tackle. Sometimes an entire group of tacklers wind up circling him, but not bringing him down before the referee’s whistle blows the play dead.

The fullback has always been an integral part of WC’s offense, but it is rare for that position to be the team’s leading rusher and scorer. Hicks is both, with 736 yards and 13 TDs on 121 carries.

“It’s happened that way because we haven’t had a tailback step up,” Morgan said.

Even though he is a capable blocking back, Hicks likes his role just the way it is.

“I want to re-establish the fullback position as a ball-carrier,” said Hicks, who would like to play at Mississippi State or Ole Miss. “I want to run the ball.”

Beating Vicksburg has gotten to be old hat for Hicks, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t enjoyable.

“I’ve been doing it ever since seventh grade,” he said. “I like the bragging rights. We do it every year, and we’re going to do it again next year.”