He never asked for preseason magazine covers, player of the year awards and constant praise from folks mostly envious of his talent.
Blake Greene only wanted respect, admiration for his worth ethic and charisma despite playing against lower classification competition without the burning scrutiny of a 4A microscope.
Sometimes to a fault, the blond-haired, southern-twanged quarterback deflected the limelight toward other teammates and credited his coaching staff for his individually heroic, record-setting performances.
“That’s just who he is,” Red Springs coach George Coltharp said. “He’s so unassuming.”
Greene embodies what it means to be great, the shining example of the impact a prep football player can have on a program, a close-knit community and those associated with the everyday life of a high school athlete.
The three-year captain won’t soon be forgotten in Robeson County football lore as he enters the pantheon of greatness amongst the likes of Maxton’s James McDougald, Lumberton’s Tim Worley and South Robeson’s Vonta Leach.
“I’m going to miss Friday nights,” Greene said this week before his final home game. “This has been great and something I’ll never forget.”
The area’s all-time leader in total touchdowns, yards from scrimmage, completions and attempts received a coronation reserved for a king Friday evening at Red Springs as he led the Red Devils to victory with 331 yards of total offense.
He even picked off his team-leading sixth pass on defense.
As usual, Greene did a little of everything.
“He’s 5-10, 165 pounds, but he’s 6-8, 320 in his heart,” Coltharp said. “He has always played with his emotions on his sleeve and when he’s steps between those lines, he’s humble and appreciative. I love him and I’m going to miss him.”
Greene’s legacy is long-lasting despite this season’s disappointing finish.
“Blake is Blake man, one of the biggest reasons the culture has changed at Red Springs,” senior linebacker Markeiss Blue said, a key contributor alongside Greene during the Red Devils’ recent run of success. “He’s been a great teammate and somebody we could count on.”
Since taking over for Joe Gordon as the program’s starting quarterback four games into his freshman season, Greene’s been the consistent star in an area mired in mediocrity. His career numbers will fall somewhere after former Independence great Chris Leak and T.A. McLendon’s in the NCHSAA state record books —145 touchdowns and more than 11,000 yards of total offense.
He won’t get the storybook send off in the playoffs thanks to the inexperienced pieces around him, but Greene’s not focused on this year’s end result.
“We made Red Springs relevant (in football) and I don’t think anyone thought we could do that,” Greene said. “The accolades don’t mean nothing to me. I’m just thankful to be on a team that was known as a winner.”
In 2012, Greene carried the Red Devils to their first conference title in eight years with a mesmerizing 63-touchdown junior season. Red Springs needed each and every toss, scamper and heave to reach the third round of the playoffs for the second consecutive year despite functioning on the area’s lowest football operating budget with a weight room below standards and difficulty finding the next team meal.
Coltharp, the county’s two-time defending coach of the year, is just glad No. 7 fulfilled his commitment when other programs would’ve welcomed his services.
“He came to work every day to get better and improve this program,” Coltharp said. “He made me look good by showing up. The kid was our general that led his army. I look forward to following him at the next level and him being the ambassador for Red Springs football.”
Greene’s term as the area’s football president is coming to a close, but the Red Devils’ rise to power during his tenure is something the town of 3,500 will continue to reference for several decades.
All hail King Greene.
Reach staff writer Brad Crawford at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @MrPalmettoSDS.