Alford Ready To Show Heart, Grit At Fortius Project
Updated: Apr 19, 2019
Houston's Rish Alford warms up before a game |
Photo by Mitzi McGee
Rish Alford is living proof that size and appearance do not always dictate how one can perform on Friday nights.
Standing at 5’8 and weighing 170 pounds, the Houston 2020 defensive lineman had himself a stellar campaign this season. He finished with 111 total tackles and 16 sacks en route to earning All-SES honors. Most of those numbers came while being a target on the other side of the ball.
“When I came up, everybody looked at me and said I was going to be blocked and get me hurt,” Alford told SES Mississippi. “Then they realized what I can do. Since then, I’ve been getting double teamed.”
While it frustrated Alford at times, he had a realization three games into the season that his presence on the field was just as important as getting individual numbers.
“I learned after the New Hope game that I was out there for a reason,” Alford said. “If I was getting double teamed, it would open others to get tackles. I realized that it wasn’t all about me, it was about the team and then getting that ring. We came up short, but we still had a good run.”
The Hilltoppers finished 11-2 and won their first division title in 20 years. Although they were bounced in the third round of the playoffs once again, they made history in Chickasaw County. They did so with a heavy burden on their shoulders all throughout the year.
Freshman Hilltopper Will Anderson passed away on Sept. 10 after collapsing during a junior varsity game. The tragedy brought the team together in ways like never before.
“One of the biggest things our team has learned from last year is to overcome adversity,” Alford said. “With Will passing away, that took a toll on all of us. That brought all of us together. We’ve never been that close before. I love my brothers more than anything. I don’t take anyone for granted.”
Alford and his teammates made sure to honor their fallen teammate by being close on the football field as well as in the locker room.
“It is the love we have for each other," Alford said. "We go to practice our tails off everyday. The little things matter. If one of us messes up, the team messes up. Sometimes, football just wears out on people, but we are not going to let our competitive fire burn out. A lot of us are short and scrappy, but are strong.”
Alford will look to show that competitive nature at the Fortius Project on March 2 at Northeast Mississippi Community College. While he’s there, he aims to polish up his fundamentals as well.
“I try to perfect my hands,” Alford said. “In the college ranks and pros, they use their hands. You have to, especially with someone my size, you have to make separation. I also want to show my heart, more importantly. I want others to know that my heart separates me from others.”
To register for the Fortius Project, click here.