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Nov. 7, 1997: Shining moments have been frequent for Michael Vick
Shining moments have been frequent for Warwick High quarterback Michael Vick, whose high school career ends tonight.
None was brighter than his Sept. 12 performance this season against nationally ranked Hampton.
A crowd of 8,000-plus swarmed Todd Stadium to see the matchup between the area's two best quarterbacks, Vick and Ronald Curry.
Curry and Hampton prevailed 34-16, but Vick's name was on many new lips as the throng headed for the parking lot. His already high college-recruiting stock had risen even more.
Vick scorched the Hampton secondary for 295 passing yards and showed both an elusive and determined running ability.
Several out-of-town sports writers getting their first live glimpse of Curry that night wanted to know more about the kid wearing No. 7 for Warwick.
``Playing in the same district at the same position as Ronald Curry for four years has been tough at times but has also been good for me because it made me work harder every week to get where he is,'' Vick said before Warwick's Wednesday practice.
``I just wish I could play every game against competition like Curry and Hampton.''
Looking back on a career that features 4,600 passing yards and 42 touchdown passes in 32 games, Vick concedes only one major disappointment - never having made the playoffs.
``It's the goal every year, and never making it after all that hard work hurts,'' he said. ``I hate what ifs, but you have to think about what might have happened if you made one more big play here or there.
``Overall though, a lot of things have gone right. When I was in the eighth grade and watching my cousin Aaron Brooks quarterback the Ferguson varsity at Todd Stadium, I never dreamed I would be doing the same thing a year later. I thought I might get a chance to play varsity by the time I was a junior.''
Warwick coach Tommy Reamon pegged Vick as something special when he first saw the fluid left-hander throw in the eighth grade. Reamon was the head coach at Ferguson, which no longer exists.
Vick remembers Reamon, impressed enough after seeing Vick throw three passes, offering to help and guide the quarterback.
``Coach Reamon kept his word to me and has had the biggest influence on my football career,'' he said.
Reamon calls Vick the focal point of the Warwick program. He marvels at how he has matured as a leader and the way he has made the players around him much better.
``Michael ranks right up there with Curry, Allen Iverson, Walter Bowser, Leroy Keyes, all the greats who have played around here,'' Reamon said. ``He has the drive and the obsession to get something done that many kids don't have these days.''
Reamon said Vick has progressed well at handling the toughest challenge for any quarterback - reading defenses. That progress includes making better sight adjustments with his receivers and being more aware of what linebackers are giving him.
``He just needs to find the right supporting cast to be successful at the college level,'' the Warwick coach said.
Vick has narrowed his college wish list to Virginia Tech, Clemson, Syracuse, Georgia Tech and East Carolina.
He is comfortable with the possibility of being redshirted, noting that it would give him time to learn a new offensive system and to get settled academically.
``I've never flown in an airplane, and I haven't been any further away from home than North Carolina,'' Vick said. ``It's time for me to see the world.''