CLARKSVILLE — In only one season Colin Flake has gone from scout team to prime time.
Last year the then-junior volunteered to play running back for the Providence scout team. Flake hadn’t played the position since the eighth grade, so when he was taken up on his offer he was ecstatic.
It wasn't long, though, before the Pioneer coaches were equally as happy.
“He came out and gave a great look for us,” Providence coach Larry Denison said. “He did such a great job at the end of the year running our scout offense for us that we decided to move him there to running back [this year]. It was a good choice.”
That’s an understatement.
The 5-foot-11, 165-pound senior has run for 1,175 yards and 13 touchdowns this season for the Pioneers (5-6), who host Triton Central (8-3) at 7 p.m. Friday night in the Class 2A Sectional 39 final at Murphy Stadium.
“I like it,” Flake said of his new position this year. “I like it a lot better than defense, to be honest with you.”
The Providence offensive backfield was chock-full of talent the last couple of years with standouts Kaden Williams and Kevin Smith, as well as Jeremy Gettlefinger, so Flake stuck to the defensive backfield. He started at cornerback on the Pioneers’ 2017 sectional-winning team, then did so again last year.
It was during last season, though, that Flake also offered to play running back for the scout team when it went up against the first-team defense in practice.
“I was like, ‘Let me play running back, we need to have a good look,’ because the JV wasn’t giving us a very good look,” Flake recalled during a break from Wednesday’s practice.
It didn't take long for him to catch the eye of the coaching staff, especially as the Pioneers prepared to face Charlestown.
“Last year I played [Pirates standout] Marion [Lukes] when we played them ... and I showed out in practice,” Flake recalled with a smile.
The graduation of Williams and Smith from last season’s team opened up a hole for Flake.
“He’s worked hard, he’s studied and he’s picked up the coaching tips that we’ve given him,” Denison said. “The kid worked hard, but he’s also got a lot of natural talent too, so that helps as well.”
Flake started the season off in fine fashion for the Pioneers, who switched to a single-wing formation offense. He ran for 91 yards and two touchdowns in the Pioneers’ Week 1 win at Bethlehem (Ky.). The next week he ran for 137 yards and a TD in a 28-7 loss to Floyd Central.
The latter was the first of five 100-yard games for Flake, who gained 128 against Charlestown, 173 vs. Mitchell and 107 against Linton-Stockton before erupting for a career-best performance in last week’s 42-16 win at Eastern in the sectional semifinals. In that game Flake ran the ball 16 times for 311 yards and five touchdowns to help the Pioneers advance to their third straight sectional final.
“He had a great game,” Denison said. “We told him coming in that ‘We’re going to run our sweep a lot against these guys and hopefully you can have a big game.’ That was one of the gameplans and he came through for us.”
Flake, who averages 106.8 rushing yards per game and 6.6 yards per carry, paces the Pioneers in rushing yards, total yards (1,350), all-purpose yards (1,403) and scoring (84 points).
However for all his success this season Flake, who became the team’s primary ball-carrier when Gettlefinger went down with a season-ending injury in Week 6, is quick to credit his offensive line and other blockers. That group includes senior tackles Vincent Benningfield, Donte’ Davis and Brayton Gettelfinger; guards David Wall, a junior, and senior Connor Hazen; junior center Ryley Gunther; senior tight ends Austin Barnett and Alec Fougerousse and senior fullback Andrew Henderson.
“They block extremely well,” Flake said.
While Flake hopes to play football in college, he wants something else first — another sectional championship.
“A couple of us played when we won our sectional,” he said. “A lot of us started last year when we went to the sectional championship again … [this year] we want it.”