Andy Ellis is proof thatnice guys don’t finish last


The opposing player is lifted off the ground, air rushing out of his lungs as his body is flung to the ground. The moan reverberates off the field and into the crowd, which passes it along and then grows silent.

That scenario was repeated at least once every Friday night for the last four years during Husky football season. The only thing that changed was the color of the opponent’s uniform.

It would be difficult, if not impossible to convince the unlucky opponent that the locomotive that just ran over him is one of the nicer students at SHHS.

Andy Ellis, all 245 pounds of him, can extol a beating on any would-be tackler when he’s running the ball from his fullback post or on a halfback half his size, when he’s reading the offense so well from his linebacker slot.

But Ellis, who will go down in the Husky sports journals as one of the better athletes to ever wear green and gold, hasn’t let success in three sports go to his head.

In fact, if it weren’t for the fact that he is so well known throughout 3A sports circles, he could pass for just another happy-go-lucky high school student.

His popularity extends to student leadership as president of the SHHS student body.

Head football coach Rob Younger says Ellis is everything a teacher or coach could ever ask for. He leads through hard work, expects more of himself than others and is willing to take time to train younger athletes.

Ellis’ athletic records spoil any chance of someone taking his four years at SHHS for granted.

In football, Ellis is one of just three Huskies in the past 40 years to earn four varsity letters. He was named Capital Conference Defensive Player of the Year not once, but three times, an unheard of accomplishment.

This year he was named Capital Conference first team running back and first team linebacker. He was team MVP and earned the top defensive award.

Numbers don’t lie. Ellis carried the ball 141 times in 10 games for 867 yards, a 6.1 yard per carry average as a fullback. He scored 14 touchdowns, 84 points and average nearly 87 yards per game.

He led the Huskies to a 5-1 league mark and a share of the conference championship.

In four season, Ellis’ 2,230 yards rank him second on the school’s all-time list as a fullback.

But Ellis’ talents aren’t confined solely to the football field.

In just three years of wrestling, Ellis went from novice to state champion at heavyweight. He finished 30-1 last year and is amazingly agile for a big man.

Wrestling mentor Steve Thorpe says SHHS hasn’t seen an athlete of Ellis’ caliber for some time.

“Last year, after we lost so many talented athletes from our back-to-back state championship teams, Andy stepped up as a leader in the practice room and in competition,” Coach Thorpe said. “He’s a very positive example, a positive leader for us.”

Ellis’ only loss last season came in the first tournament of the year. “After that, it was quite a tear,” Thorpe said with a laugh.

Thorpe added that although Ellis is having an excellent senior year, he hasn’t waited around for good things to happen to him.

“Andy has applied himself since his freshman year,” Thorpe said. “What I really like about him is he’s never too good to talk to the freshmen or our mat club kids. Andy’s a hero to those little guys. I think the type of person he is is a compliment to his parents and the way he was brought up.”

In the spring, Ellis dons catching equipment and helps guide Coach Dan Tow’s baseball squad.

Coach Tow echoes his peers’ sentiments about the talented student-athlete.

“Andy is the only player I’ve had who has been a varsity player all four years,” Coach Tow said. “As a junior, he led our team in half our statistic categories.”

Tow said Ellis is a “great player both offensively and defensively. He blocks the ball well and he throws better every year.”

He’s good, Tow said, because he is dedicated. Last year, for example, he never missed a practice.

“There’s no doubt Andy has a physical presence about him,” Coach Tow said. “He stands out and has a lot of respect from players and coaches in the league.”

He holds season and league records for career put-outs (160 and 99) and catcher fielding average (.993 and .990).

In 26 games last season, Ellis posted a strong .384 batting average and an even more impressive slugging percentage of .726.

So, what does Ellis say about himself?

Not much.

“I’m having a great senior year,” Ellis said with a grin. “It’s more fun taking part, not sitting back. I like being involved in student government because if you see something that needs changed, you can voice your opinion about how you think it should be done.”

Ellis said spirit and student involvement at SHHS are up significantly since his freshman year.

“I think it could still be better,” he said. “Some guys think they are too cool. Overall though, our school has a good atmosphere. We don’t fight–there are some squabbles–but nothing serious.”

Ellis credits his parents, Lynn and Nancy and his siblings, Becky and Joey, with helping develop his positive attitude. Both teachers, Ellis’ parents stress homework above all other things at night, he said.

“I have very supportive parents, great siblings, good friends and no enemies that I know of,” Ellis said. “I just try to take it one day at a time. I don’t look too far ahead.”

Ellis said sports programs have taught him to work hard and respect for others.

“I’ve learned discipline from sports,” he said. “I don’t know where I’d be if I hadn’t played sports.”

Ellis credits his teammates for much of his success.

“In wrestling, my workout partners, James Gourley and Adam Cooley, really helped get me started right my freshman year,” Ellis said. “They showed me what it means to be a good role model.”

Ellis plans to attend college and play at least one sport, although he is uncertain where. “I’m looking seriously at OSU. They’ve shown interest in me in both football and wrestling,” Ellis said. ‘I’ve toured the campus a couple times.”

He has a 3.0 GPA and enjoys creative writing and music.

On the spiritual side, Ellis attends St. Helen’s Catholic church where he is active in the youth group. He also attends the Community Chapel Youth Group.

“My coaches have kept me on the straight and narrow,” Ellis said. “They have been supportive and made a big difference in my life.”