WAPELLO, Iowa – Wapello football coach Todd Parsons has described Ricky Pforts as a quiet kid who lets his actions speak for him. However, put the running back on a football field and his actions are anything but quiet. Pforts’ bruising, bulldozer running style resulted in 951 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns in his sophomore season.
“He’s a great kid who works extremely hard in the weight room,” Parsons said. “Physically he looks the part. We’re just excited to have him around for two more years.”
Although Wapello (5-4, 4-3) had already been eliminated from playoff contention by the time week nine rolled around, but Pforts said it was crucial to get a win for the seniors on senior night. The sophomore certainly did his part, as he rushed 29 times for 189 yards and three touchdowns in a 44-8 rout of Highland Riverside.
“He’s got all the physical skills,” Parsons said. “He’s starting to figure out when to cut or break it outside. Just with experience he got better as the season went along.”
Certainly, Pforts’ rise hit its apex earlier this season against rival Louisa-Muscatine when the sophomore rushed 37 times for 219 yards in a 28-12 victory in week six. He rushed for 53 yards the following week against Wilton before totaling 316 yards and five touchdowns in Wapello’s final two games.
“I feel like that was probably my turning point,” Pforts said of week six. “It was a confidence booster.”
“I thought he finished the year really strong,” Parsons added. “He started to figure out how to run with his pad level lower and be physical while he’s running.”
The 37 carries may have been just as impressive as his 219 yards, as that sort of workload has become rare for running backs at any level. Earlier this season Parsons said he would like to see his running back become more of a workhorse, and the sophomore certainly delivered when given the opportunity.
Pforts topped 20 carries three times this season, and he rushed for more than 120 yards on all three occasions. He often served as the Indians closer when they had leads in the fourth quarter, something that stood out to his coach.
“He’s a big, physical kid and he racked up a lot of yards for us in the second half of games and that was really nice to see,” Parsons said. “We kept having to remind ourselves he’s only a sophomore and I thought he did an excellent job.”
Pforts credited Sean Farmer, Wapello’s first-year running backs coach, for his improvement this season. The Indians new coach “knows how to get you going,” which Pforts said helped him continue to grow and play hard as the season progressed.
With the departure of senior quarterback Logan Belzer, who passed for 1,564 yards and 24 touchdowns this season, Pforts will likely need to become both a leader for his teammates and a cornerstone for the offense next season.
Parsons is confident his running back is ready for both challenges.
“I think the sky is the limit for him,” Parsons said. “He’s going to continue to get better. He’s always willing to put the time and do what it takes to be good. He’s a great kid and very coachable.”