Family roots run deep for Riders in Cola Wars


ARCOLA (WCIA) — Every time Austin Hopkins takes a hand off, he’s not only carrying the ball for his team, he’s continuing the tradition of Hopkins from years past.

“My dad played on the state team in ’91, well the runner-up team in ’91,” Hopkins said about his dad Ryan. “And then my uncle Chad played on the ’85 and ’88 team. My grandpa played way back when.”

Hopkins isn’t the only Rider continuing a family legacy. Offensive lineman Mason Meyers’ dad, Doug, blocked for Austin’s dad in high school.

“Ever since I was little all my desire to play football came from my dad so being able to have that family connection just among a small town like this it really inspires and helps out for blocking for Austin there,” Meyers said.

Both Austin and Mason have been going to Arcola football games for as long as they can remember. Each distinctly remembers the 2015 state title team, when they were in 8th grade. But it’s the moments with their parents that led them to where they are today.

“Just from my dad he’s always taught me to play hard and to be the best person I can be,” Meyers said. “So I take a lot of inspiration from watching old film from him and it’s a really exciting time.”

“It was definitely something that I took on right away,” Hopkins added. “I loved football from the moment I was born I feel like. Being surround by them, they just kind of pushed me to be where I’m at now and carry the tradition on and be as good as I can be.”

And that’s pretty good. Hopkins ran for more than 1,000 yards in each of his last two seasons. He added 149 more on Friday at Argenta-Oreana, well on his way to a third straight season reaching the 1,000 yard season. He’ll look to add to that total in Friday night’s Cola Wars game against Tuscola.

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