CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – Our Honda Athlete of the Week is Robert C. Byrd’s starting quarterback Xavier Lopez.
Lopez wasn’t always a quarterback. In fact, he didn’t always play football.
“I didn’t play football until middle school actually so in sixth grade I played defense a little bit and then in seventh grade I started playing quarterback in the second half of the season and it just kind of stuck since then so. Back in middle school the first couple of years I hated football really.I couldn’t find a position for me but luckily coach gave me a chance at quarterback and it just stuck since then,” Lopez said.
Then in high school he earned the starting spot under center in his junior season at RCB.
But it didn’t go as planned. A torn Labrum sidelined Lopez for the majority of the season.
“I ended up missing six games And it was really difficult just watching from the sideline, you know, I wanted to be out there so bad. It was very difficult,” Lopez said.
Fast forward to this year. A year that was the weirdest football season for most was one that fell right into place for Lopez who saw the starting QB spot yet again, this time injury free.
“I kind of played with a chip on my shoulder. I knew what I could do but just last year not being able to show that didn’t sit with me well. So my goal this year was to just go play 110 percent every play, play smart, and do what I needed to do to win,” Lopez said.
And they did win. Lopez led the Flying Eagles to a 7-2 record in the regular season and to a playoff berth.
He knows what made the difference this time around.
“Just the work we put into the off season. The leadership and intensity that we brought everyday to practice was great. And that’s what separates good teams from great teams. Last year we were good. The year before that we were good. And this year we had that leadership and the work ethic and that’s what made us great this year,” Lopez said.
Playing through this season wasn’t easy. Covid-19 canceled many games and practices and Lopez knew he and his team had to treat this season differently.
“It’s difficult going to the practice not knowing that the next day is guaranteed for you. I think that’s what pushed us to work so hard. We never knew when our last day was going to be so we always wanted to make practice that day like our last practice because you really didn’t know. But I think that we handled that adversity well and did what we knew how to do and got the job done at the end of the day,” Lopez said.
He also said RCB did what they set out to do this season and that was getting Robert C. Byrd football back to where it needs to be, with a winning record and a spot in the playoffs.