By all accounts, Ethan Pritchard showed during 7-on-7 sessions and team camp he's blossoming into a star, while running out of the backfield with the ball or gaining yards after a catch.
Ozark coach Chad Depee is just as fond of what Pritchard has done when he doesn't have the pigskin.
"Everybody talks about when he touches the ball," Depee said. "He can do a lot of different things, most importantly he’s a physical kid who can block. It’s imperative in what we do that we have unselfish play. There are 11 guys out there who have to do their jobs and only one of them has the ball. The guys who make the difference are the ones who know the job they do affects the guy with the ball and Ethan puts a lot of effort into his blocking."
Pritchard takes as much pride in blocking as any part of his game.
"I’m not going to brag on myself, but I’ve always been pretty good at getting into people and blocking them," he said. "We work in practice on getting into the linebackers’ hips on our blocks. I try to do that as much as I can. It’s important and if you block well for someone, they’re going to be thinking, ‘All right, if they’re willing to do it for me, I’m going to do it for them.'"
Pritchard's carries and catches as an 'A-back' could vary from game to game. Depee cautions anticipating Pritchard would average 10-15 touches a night would be premature.
"I wouldn’t put that on anybody, except maybe our fullback," Depee said. "It just depends. But he is going to touch the ball quite a bit."
A former quarterback, Pritchard's priority list this summer has been topped by improving as a receiver.
"I want to get the ball more," the 6-foot-2, 180-pound junior said. "I’m not trying to be selfish. But I’m trying to get out and run good routes because I feel I can do well. Day in and day out I’m trying to do the best I can reading the defenses and reading my blocks."
Pritchard already established himself as a standout defensively at outside linebacker last season. He was an All-COC Third-Team selection.
As a starter on both sides of the ball, Pritchard could very well join seniors Chance Strickler and Jake Skaggs as the Tigers' captains. The players will vote on two additional captains at the start of practices.
"On the defensive side, Ethan is one of our leaders," Depee said. "He has a nose for the football. He’s always around it. He has been a great guy in the weight room. We look forward to big things from him."