By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The Tipton-Rosemark Academy Rebels have reached the playoffs in three consecutive years.
Not by coincidence, players like AJ Hightower and brothers Sean and Shane O’Brien have signed college scholarship to play at the next level. In addition during that time span, Hightower joined Logan Stewart as AutoZone Liberty Bowl High School All-Stars.
Now with new Head Coach Collin Pinner in charge, many around the TRA program expect the positive momentum to continue. And the key player the Rebel faithful are hoping will be the next All-Star is linebacker/running back Jose Flores.
But with so much change around the TRA program, some area experts are calling for the Rebels to take a step back.
“I’m excited and ready to prove everybody wrong,” Flores said. “We’re coming for them.
“We’re going to have to work hard and have a ‘Get to it’ attitude,” he added. “We’re going to have to teach some of these new guys what it is all about.”
Flores said he learned under the guidance of players like Stewart, Hightower, Ethan Carpenter, Ethan Watson and the O’Brien brothers.
“We’re going to try to get these guys a good attitude,” he said. “It all starts with attitude. We’re going to have to see me make some good choices and lead these guys. I have to be smart.”
While growing his mind around the game, Flores keeps his body in shape practicing mix martial arts. Also during his down time, he can be found assisting his father Jose Sr., at their family restaurant Margaritas.
“I get a lot of my toughness from my Dad,” Jose Jr., said. “He always taught me not to back down from anybody or any challenge. Don’t let anybody think they’re better than you.
“And coming from Ripley, there are a lot of people down there who have that attitude and chip on their shoulder,” he added.
The latest role model to add to Flores strength on and off the field is Pinner.
“Coach Pinner has been trying to get us ready,” he noted. “He’s been trying to change our attitude. Last year we kind of had a sluggish attitude and didn’t want to get after it. The attitude is what it is all about.”
Flores said Pinner won the team’s respect when he ran 40s in the summer heat. With their coach displaying toughness, Flores said the Rebels will have the right attitude in 2016.
“We’ve got to hit them in the mouth when we come out of the blocks,” he said.
Now it’s Flores’ turn to be a leader and get his team in the right mind frame. If the Rebels are to make it four years in a row in the playoffs, Flores must add his name to the list of successful Rebels.
“It’s amazing I’m placed in that line,” he concluded. “Now I want to set an example people will struggle to achieve. I want to rush for 1,500 yards.”