Fairlea – After two weeks it looked like Greenbrier East junior running back Ian Cline would be in for a metaphorical sophomore slump following last year’s breakout season.
In the season opener he didn’t gain a single yard rushing and through two games he’d only accumulated 66 yards on the ground, a step back for a player who rushed for over 600 yards in two games combined last season and over 1,600 yards total.
With his team facing an 0-3 hole, Cline busted his slump with a performance the East faithful have become accustomed to.
On the road at Robert C. Byrd, Cline rushed for 249 yards and three touchdowns and hauled in four passes for 94 yards and another score.
For his efforts Cline has been named the Lootpress 2022 Week 3 Player of the Week by the Lootpress sportswriters.
The award is sponsored by Bodyworks, the Law Offices of Brandon Steele, InShapeWV and Mid-State Ford.
Cline becomes the first player to win the award across multiple seasons, having won the award last season in Week 9.
It didn’t take for the all-stater to realize he’d be in for a big game in Clarksburg.
“I don’t really look for the big game but they’re always fun to have, you just never know how it’s going to go,” Cline said. “I think in the first quarter when I had a 20- or 30-yard run and it was very early in the game I knew if we kept doing that I’d have a big game.”
Part of the slow start has been an offensive line that’s young and still finding it’s footing. Against one of the better programs in Class AA, the Spartans did just that after taking their licks in the first two games. It also helped Cline embraced more of a leadership role with positive reinforcement that uplifted his teammates.
“I’d say the experience on the line helped for sure,” Cline said. “We finally got into it and started clicking together. The holes were there and my cutbacks were open because of them so I just went from there. They were bigger than us but we were 0-2 and we needed to come out with some heart during the week. Last week was definitely the hardest working week we had out of the first three. I definitely tried to encourage them especially if something bad happened because not every play is going to be a big play.”
Having completed a pass, caught a pass and punished teams on the ground, it wasn’t a surprise to see Cline contribute in the passing game but he proved to be an explosive weapon, hauling in a 77-yard touchdown pass in the win. It’s an element of Cline’s game he spent the offseason polishing, absorbing info from various sources.
“I wouldn’t say I focused on receiving a lot but I worked on it on the side with some of our other receivers,” Cline said. “I’d look up some videos to pick up some route techniques and some releases and we worked on that during the summer. I got more in tune with that in the summer and it worked out. I think it helped me add a hesitation move. If I’m running with someone and I can get their feet to stop for half a second I know I can beat them in the long run with speed.”
As a Player of the Week winner Cline will be invited to the Lootpress Fall Sports Banquet where he’ll be honored along with the other POTW winners.
Princeton linebacker Khamrin Proffitt won the fan vote with 31,277 votes, over 41 percent of the total vote tally. In an effort to reward communities for their diligence in voting for their respective players, Lootpress will take the top vote getter each week and advance them to the pool of candidates for the newly created Community Choice Player of the Year. When the regular season concludes, the 11 players that led in total votes their respective weeks will be grouped into a poll where everyone can vote on one player to win the award as well as the $500 scholarship that comes with it.
2022 Player of the Week Winners
Week 3: Ian Cline, Greenbrier East
2022 Community Choice Winners
Week 1: Cooper Ridgeway, James Monroe
Week 2: Layton Dowdy, James Monroe
Week 3: Khamrin Proffitt, Princeton