By Matthew Dziak / Staff Writer
Adversity is one of those impediments of life that separate the boys from the men. The ability and patience to keep working at an elevated level even when one is not granted the opportunity to showcase their talent, is a test of character.
Zach Adkins, quarterback for Riverside City College football, has proven his high level of character.
Adkins was a backup in RCC coach Tom Craft’s offense for the past two seasons. Last year, Adkins saw playing time as a reserve when the Tigers’ lead was insurmountable after starting quarterback Dalton Livingston executed a flawless game plan.
Livingston guided RCC to an undefeated season in 2011 and accepted a scholarship from the University of Utah.
Coming into the 2012 season, Adkins found his name second on the depth chart once more behind ironically, a University of Utah transfer, freshman Tyler Shreve.
“It gave me drive, (it) made me work even harder.” Adkins said. “I’m actually glad it happened since it made me work hard each and every practice to not give up.”
Shreve, a two sport standout in baseball and football as a pitcher and quarterback at Redlands East Valley High School, transferred back to RCC with the perception of coasting through the season as the starter with his cannon of an arm and 6 foot 4 inches, 235-pound stature.
Complaining, not putting forth full effort in practice, as well as becoming a nuisance and distraction for the team is protocol of a second string player who feels robbed of an opportunity.
“He is a great role model and someone who doesn’t pout or feel sorry for himself,” Craft said.
In the first game of the season on the road against Ventura College, Shreve was ejected for two personal foul penalties in the first half and the reigns of the offense were handed over to Adkins.
In relief, Adkins, who is now fielding a scholarship offer from Louisiana Tech University, completed 19-of-24 passes for 244 yards and a touchdown as the Tigers were upset by a 91-yard game winning drive by Ventura, who took a one point lead with just 39 seconds.
“He has determination to play the game and I have to give him a lot of credit for that,” Craft said.
Reminiscent of any leader, Adkins worked hard to bounce back from the Tigers first loss since 2010 and as the starting quarterback through nine games, leads the National Central Conference with 2,383 passing yards and 26 touchdowns; outdueling Mt. San Antonio’s golden boy Nick Montana, the son of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback and Superbowl MVP Joe Montana.
“He got an opportunity and made the most of it,” Craft said. “I’m really proud of him because he has been here for three years and it has worked out for him.”
During his tenure under the guidance of coach Craft, Adkins’ ability to be an understudy as well as grasp the complex offensive system proved more effective than the God-given talents of Shreve.
“Just being accountable for each other is the biggest thing coach Craft has taught me,” Adkins said.
In the huddle, Adkins is the general, commanding the full attention of his teammates like George Washington commanding the Continental Army of the Revolutionary War.
“He leads by example,” Craft said. “The other players like him because of the way he approaches the game.”
In just one half of play against Long Beach City College, Adkins broke a school record held by Livingston, throwing six touchdowns and passing for 346 yards before relinquishing his quarterback duties to Shreve for the afternoon.
“Ever since I was little I hated losing.” Adkins said. “My dad has always been tough on me, constantly pushing me to be better.”
RCC had its last home game in the 2012 season at Wheelock Stadium against College of the Desert, as it is set to travel to Walnut Saturday to face Mt. San Antonio College in a showdown to decide the Nation Central Conference Champion.
Barring some miraculous seeding in the playoffs that would warrant a home game, for many of the players, including Adkins, the 40-10 victory on Nov. 3, against College of the Desert was the last time they laced up their orange and black Nike cleats and took to the turf in front of their home friends and family.
“It’s a great community; I have lived here my whole life.” Adkins said about living in Riverside. “A lot of people come out and support me and I just want to put on a great performance for them.”
The infamous Green Bay Packers’ legend and Superbowl winning Coach Vince Lombardi once said, “The spirit, the will to win and the will to excel – these are the things that endure and these are the qualities that are so much more important than any of the events that occasion them.”
One thing is for certain, Zach Adkins’ will is without doubt unsurpassed by any other player, for that one cannot help but gravitate to him as a player, leader and most importantly as a human being.
“He has tremendous perseverance and a great attitude, you have to have both to be great,” Craft said.