Addison Adams proudly
follows in his father’s deep footprints, and they’re doing it side by side.
Gary “Shorty” Adams ran for a touchdown
seemingly every other series at Science Hill in the late 1980s and was good
enough in baseball to spend three years in the Montreal Expos system. These
days, Shorty is Addison’s running backs coach at Science Hill.
“The first time I heard about him, I was young,”
said Addison, a senior running back/defensive end for Stacy Carter’s Hilltoppers. “It was cool going to Science Hill games and he’s up on the wall (in the gym), and I just embraced it from there. That’s all you hear now: ‘You’re Shorty’s son, right? Your dad was a great ballplayer.’”
Shorty can relate. His father, Bill “Bones” Adams was a standout in football and dominant sprinter in track at Castlewood High School (Va.). Bill's brother Paul played football and baseball at Virginia Tech. He was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 27th round in 1976 and signed a free agent contract with the Buffalo Bills in 1977.
Another of Bill’s brothers, Charles “Doc” Adams, was a high school quarterback and played baseball at East Tennessee State.
“Dad was a real good football player and he held the 100-meter record at Castlewood for a very long time,” Shorty said. “I heard over the years how good he was at football and how fast he was and things like that. … I was six or seven years when I had an uncle playing baseball at ETSU and, at the same time, he had an older brother that was playing at Virginia Tech. … I was around those two a lot when I was younger. And when my grandmother lived in Castlewood, I was always up there. I guess it’s an Adams tradition to play football.”
And baseball. A plate-crowding switch-hitter, Addison prefers diamonds to gridirons.
But the 5-foot-8, 230-pounder has become a key contributor on the football team. He scored two touchdowns in last week’s victory against David Crockett, including an interception he returned for a TD. Addison credited line coach Andrew Beck for scouting the play that led to his defensive score.
“He helped us work on that all week and it came through,” Addison said. “It was basically a slot coming across for a slant and we just spread out. As soon as I saw (the quarterback) go up I raised my hands up and blocked it and it fell back into my hands.”
It’s been a long haul to paydirt for Addison. Four days prior to the preseason jamboree for his sophomore season, he tore an ACL in his right knee in a scrimmage against Sevier County.
“That was the hardest thing I think I’ve ever been through – not being able to be out there my sophomore year after working hard all summer,” Addison said. “I worked my butt off to try to get back for baseball.”
Addison began getting in the swing of things on the football field the final three games of last season.
“He learned about adversity at a young age and he’s benefitted from it,” Shorty said. “He’s running strong this year and I think it’s past that mental stage and trusting it. He carried the bulk of the handoffs last year playing JV. ... It takes about a full year for a young kid to recover from that knee surgery and everything.”
Shorty is proud of his son’s perseverance, but teammates say Addison is hardly the fortunate son.
“He (Coach Adams) is always hard on all of us,” Science Hill running back/linebacker Gad Nagba said, “because he wants all of us to do the best that we can, hopefully. ... But you can tell that he’s extra hard on him. If he even takes a handoff wrong he gets on him hard about it. If we take a handoff wrong he still gets on us, but you can tell the tone of voice — how different it is.”
Addison is happy to have his father by his side during a memorable time of life. He played football (Junior Toppers) and baseball (Greeneville Marlins) for Shorty, dating back to when he was six. But he chuckles in agreement when asked if there are some moments he might prefer to have dad coaching at another school, as is the case with teammate Trey Sutton.
“I’ve been playing for him basically my whole life,” Addison said. “And when he got the call to go up to Science Hill (in 2008), I knew it was gonna be fun but I knew I’s gonna get a lot more than everyone else. ... But he’s hard on everyone else, too. I feel like I get it more sometimes, but that’s just showing he can be a coach and be hard on me, too.”
Science Hill’s head coach has a difficult time detecting any variance in Shorty’s stern instruction.
“I mean, Shorty is hard on him,” Carter said, “but he’s hard on all the running backs and demands a lot out of them. And that’s what we want. ... I think it’s great (they’re together). And he’s got another young one (Jaylan) coming up too in our eighth-grade system doing a great job, too. We’re very fortunate.”
Shorty would like to think he’s an indiscriminate shouter.
“Addison takes his butt chewings just like everybody else,” Shorty said with a chuckle. “He knows it does no good to pout with me or whine with me, because I treat him like everybody else. ... I don’t think I’m any harder on him, to be honest with you. I’m pretty hard on all of them.
“If anything, I’m more hard on him … this year because he’s a senior. And for us to have a good program and good teams, our seniors have got to lead. He understands that. It ain’t the father-son thing, it’s ‘You’re a senior. Y’all have to make sure this goes in the right direction.’”
Addison said he used to watch Shorty’s highlights with his grandfather, and they did so with analytical eyes.
“I’ve seen that toss sweep a lot,” Addison said, “and when he was around the edge it was basically to the house every play.”
Now, father and son are turning the corner together for the homestretch of Addison’s football career. Jaylan could get the same experience.
“I won’t them to be able to grow up and play under their names and stay out of my shadow,” Shorty said. “When they were younger, you know, it was ‘Are you gonna be as good as your dad?’ or whatever. I just want them to be able to play and have fun and not worry about what I did, especially Addison, with him being the oldest boy, and they always say to the first child, you know, ‘Are you gonna be as good as your dad?’ I just want him to have fun and do what he can do and not worry about what I did.”
As for Addison, he said he’s just happy to carry on the Adams tradition of high school football, and he’s getting to do so in a family atmosphere.