Chips’ Rankin pushing forward

Migraines and a concussion kept Manistee fullback Dillon Rankin (right) from getting off to a good start last season. Now healthy, Rankin is eager to put that adversity behind him. (Matt Wenzel/News Advocate file photo)

Senior fullback leaving last season’s adversity behind

MANISTEE — Following a breakout sophomore campaign in which he racked up more than 1,300 yards rushing and earned All-State honorable mention honors, Dillon Rankin was poised to spearhead Manistee’s offense last season.

The fullback’s path, however, was blocked from the beginning.

Rankin suffered from migraine headaches before the season even began, then sustained a concussion during the second half of a Week 1 loss to Ludington.

“It was tough in the beginning,” Rankin said. “You definitely want to start off real good. You don’t want to start off the first game with a concussion. That’s never good.”

Rankin still rushed for more than 700 yards, but wasn’t able to match the production from a season before.

“He didn’t have a bad season,” said Manistee coach Gus Kapolka. “But he never really got on track. It seemed like he was always trying to catch up but was never able to.

“But, he had a great summer this year, has had a really good camp so far and I think he can do some good things. He’s definitely worked hard and put himself in a position to be successful this season. That’s really all you can ask in the offseason.”

At 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds, Rankin is the biggest member of the Manistee backfield and as physically imposing as any Chippewa on the roster. He gives the team a powerful runner to complement the speed available in halfbacks like Tyler Maiville, Evan Slawinski or Jalen Bigalke, among others.

“We’ve got a good rotation of running backs all around,” Rankin said. “But, I’m going to try to be the leader back there and still going to get help from my quarterback and my tailbacks.”

Coming off a 4-5 season — which began with four straight losses — Rankin is more focused on helping lead the Chippewas to wins than racking up numbers.

“I’ve got individual goals that I’ll just keep to myself, but it’s more team-wise,” he said. “We’re really coming together. As a senior, you want to go out with a bang and play every play hard. If you can get everybody to do that, then you’re going to win games and have fun.”

Although last season was a trying one for Rankin individually, there was a lesson learned.

“There was adversity — the concussion, the migraines — but we kept pushing, me individually and as a team,” he said. “We still ended up winning some games.”

The Chippewas would obviously like to win even more this time around and personally, Rankin is hoping his senior season is a smoother one.

“I don’t want to start off like (last season),” he said. “Stay healthy, run hard and see what happens.”

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