Johnson City Press Friday, October 24, 2014

Sports High schools

Garland continuing tradition at Happy Valley

August 2nd, 2014 11:10 pm by Douglas Fritz

Garland continuing tradition at Happy Valley

Don’t do it — unless you have some time to listen.

“You don’t want to get me started on Warrior Pride,” said Happy Valley running back Phillip Garland. “Everybody in my family went to this school. The fieldhouse is named after my grandpa. There was no question where I would be going to school. And there’s no question where my kids will go, provided it’s still here in like 20 years.

“Definitely there is Warrior Pride in my family. It runs as thick as blood.”

Garland, who was part of Happy Valley’s football media day Saturday, is primed for another big season. The 6-foot-1, 210-pound senior rushed for 1,598 yards and 17 touchdowns last season — in just eight games. Included in the mix was a 339-yard rushing effort against Abingdon, Va.

He is, said head coach Larry Shively, the epitome of a high school football player.

“He’s a coach’s dream,” said Shively. “He’s wonderful in the classroom, and he’s a great leader. He runs as hard as anybody I’ve coached in 18 years.

“He runs with a purpose, with passion and pride. He’s just a complete football player. If you could duplicate him and had a roster full, you wouldn’t have anything to worry about.”

Garland didn’t get to this point without hard work. He also needed, or at least wisely used, a push from his dad.

“One person who stands out more than anyone has to be my father,” said Garland. “He has pushed me since I guess fifth grade. He pushed me in a good way, not like he’s disappointed at all. He’s helped me do as much as I can, and I don’t have any regrets.”

Playing running back requires getting hit, and Garland’s style means he’s going to take his share of licks. It’s a demanding game, and Garland said he gets a not-so-friendly reminder on Saturday mornings.

“One thing I definitely won’t miss is waking up Saturday morning after a game,” said Garland. “I’m like, ‘What happened?’ Where are all these bruises at? I toss and turn through the night. If I get a few hours of sleep, I’m good. But I’m killed.”

Yet still, the drive to play remains.

“I know this is all I’ve got,” said Garland. “After this season, I may not get to play football again.”

The reason this could be Garland’s last year of football has more to do with academics than athletics. A 4.0 student, Garland already wrapped up a 30 on the ACT — putting him in a position to command a full ride at the University of Tennessee.

“It’s hard to fight a full ride at UT,” said Garland, who wants to study engineering. “But there’s a little hope. If an athletic fit comes along, it’s definitely an option.”

For now, Garland and his teammates are focused on making this a good season. The way they see it, last year’s 4-6 playoff-less campaign was a few plays away from being 7-3.

“Our season could have been completely different,” said Garland. “There’s no reason why we couldn’t go 8-2 this year.

“I expect 100 percent dedication to the team from my teammates. Everybody needs to everything they can to the table.”

Happy Valley opens Aug. 21 at home against Volunteer.

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