Started from the bottom; Yellowjacket QB thrives after tough start

By Reece Waddell | Published Wednesday, October 17, 2018
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In a Groove

IN A GROOVE – Boyd quarterback Kody Risenhoover has thrown for 15 touchdowns and 1,507 yards through six games this season. Risenhoover has helped lead the Yellowjackets to a 4-2 record. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Each day, whether he likes it or not, Kody Risenhoover is given a painful reminder of how his first season as Boyd’s starting quarterback ended.

Framed above the door of the Yellowjackets’ locker room is Boyd’s 2016 team photo – a team that went 0-10.

“We have to see it every time we go in there,” Risenhoover said. “It’s motivation to do better every day.”

Only 12 years removed from their second state championship, Boyd went winless in 2016. The Yellowjackets were shut out in three games and were outscored 438-107.

In the regular season finale, Paradise routed Boyd 52-7, marking the only time in the past decade the Panthers have beaten the Yellowjackets in the Battle of 114.

“You can’t take anything for granted just because we’ve had great success around here,” said Boyd coach Brandon Hopkins, who was the offensive coordinator for the 2004 2A championship team. “That was just one of those years.

“You want everything to be clear sailing, but it’s not like that. You have to have some downs before you have some ups.”

Surveying the Field

SURVEYING THE FIELD – Boyd quarterback Kody Risenhoover drops back to pass during a game against Paradise. Risenhoover completed 64.7 percent of his passes for 229 yards and a touchdown last week. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

For Risenhoover, the struggles of being a sophomore starter quickly became compounded. Boyd averaged just 44.6 yards through the air, and Risenhoover’s interceptions began to skyrocket. When the year ended, he had thrown 15 picks to just five touchdowns and completed only 33 percent of his passes.

“It was a bad year. It was really depressing,” Risenhoover said. “I hate losing, but it was a good experience for me and my teammates.”

Hopkins said any other year, Risenhoover would have likely been left on JV to develop. But after the Yellowjackets graduated a handful of starters on both sides of the ball, Hopkins quickly realized Risenhoover would have to learn on the job.

“That was our best option, having him at quarterback,” Hopkins said. “We just had to have him. Even though that 0-10 year was tough on him, he took a lot of hits and it made him better. He got to see the speed of the game and what it was like.”

Last year, Risenhoover led Boyd to a 3-8 record and playoff berth. His completion percentage jumped more than 20 points to 53.5 percent, and his touchdown-interception ratio also drastically improved.

Risenhoover tossed 17 touchdowns against seven interceptions in 2017, throwing for 1,746 yards.

This season, Risenhoover has continued to elevate his play.

Through six games, he has nearly matched his touchdown total from 2017 with 15 scores, leading a Boyd offense that is averaging 28.8 points. Risenhoover is also protecting the ball and has only been intercepted twice this year.

Last week against Paradise, he accounted for all four Boyd touchdowns in the Yellowjackets’ 28-7 victory over the Panthers.

“He’s putting the ball on the money, for the most part,” Hopkins said. “Last year, he had a ton of interceptions, but a lot of that wasn’t on him. This year, his ratio is pretty good.

“It’s his third year being a starter and he just understands the offense and the system. He reads things well and understand what the defenses are trying to do.”

Now a senior, Risenhoover has come a long way since his 0-10 sophomore campaign.

With the Yellowjackets 4-2 overall and 2-0 in District 4-3A Division I play, Risenhoover has Boyd on track to make the playoffs for the second straight season.

It has been an arduous journey for the Yellowjacket quarterback, but he has never forgotten the trials and tribulations of his first year under center.

“I took it as a growing season. We wanted to prove ourselves,” Risenhoover said. “We’re a good team. We’ve come together a lot better, and I think we can go two or three rounds [in the playoffs].”

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