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Prep football: Senior Riverside cadets are tops in classroom, on field

POSTED: November 12, 2007 5:03 a.m.
Tersoo Uhaa and Bill Dearybury don’t have enough hours in the day to do everything that needs to be done. This pair of high school seniors have ambitious, yet grueling schedules from dawn to dusk.

Uhaa and Dearybury, cadets at Riverside Military Academy, have earned the highest respect of the administration through a résumé of exemplary personal conduct and achievements each has assembled since entering as seventh graders at the private military school in Gainesville.

Uhaa is the highest-ranking cadet at Riverside Military with the distinction of Lieutenant Colonel. Dearybury is near the top of the Riverside’s military ranking hierarchy with the distinction of Captain as Company Commander and oversees the lives of 47 cadets in the freshman and sophomore class that comprise Charlie Company.

These two have lives with so many similarities, they rarely get a minute’s separation without seeing each other, so it’s a good thing they get along so well.

In fact, the similarities started early, after Uhaa and Dearybury roomed together for two years.

"We’re always there for each other," Uhaa said.

"It’s a best friend relationship," Dearybury said.

The responsibility for this pair is primarily one of leaders on campus, but it also extends over onto the athletic field.

Uhaa, from Stone Mountain, and Dearybury, from Spartanburg, S.C., have also earned respect of the coaches they’ve played for at Riverside through their leadership roles on the football field.

Dearybury is the second-year starting quarterback for the Eagles and Uhaa is the starting tailback and linebacker.

Both Uhaa and Dearybury also wrestle for Riverside Military. Uhaa also handles the shot put, discus, 4 x 100 meter and 100 meter for the Eagles track & field team. Dearybury is a member of the Eagles’ swim team.

"Their accomplishments have been a credit to their leadership," Riverside Military football coach and athletics director Chris Lancaster said. "Let’s face it, Riverside isn’t easy.

"It’s tough being away from home, and being here forces you to be a leader of someone your own age. Tersoo and Bill have done an outstanding job ... you can’t demand respect, you have to earn it."

For each of these young men, it is 16-hour day with all-encompassing commitments that include campus life, class, homework and football. It’s an experience they feel is only going to help make them stronger in their future.

Such a hectic day leaves no time for watching television, playing on the internet, talking on the phone or chilling with the boys. It’s all business, all day.

"I know I have about five minutes at the end of class each day to myself before football practice when I can just relax," Uhaa said.

Both are also model students in the classroom.

Uhaa has a 3.5 GPA and after graduation plans on playing Division I football and pursuing a career as a dentist. Dearybury has a 3.47 GPA and is planning on majoring in business after high school either at the University of South Carolina, or playing football at either Wofford or Sewanee (University of the South).

Both acknowledge academic life at Riverside is challenging, and both are currently taking advanced placement biology together. In addition, Dearybury is taking advanced pre-calculus and is editor of the school’s 100th Anniversary yearbook edition.

"I look at my experience here at Riverside as an advantage, because most people in the business world don’t have 47 people working directly underneath them," Dearybury said. "It’s really a lot of responsibility."

Through it all they’ve made quite a bond. And each knows they always have a shoulder to lean on when times seem bad.

"I can always go and vent to Tersoo when I feel stressed," Dearybury added.

On top of everything else, Uhaa is also group leader of Riverside’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and Dearybury is also an active member.

"Tersoo and Bill are great leaders and have paid the price to get where they are on campus and on the football field," Riverside Military chaplain Fletcher Law said. "They always give 100 percent."

With all the responsibilities of their day-to-day lives, playing football is a way to unwind after a hectic day. But that doesn’t mean they don’t treat football any different than their roles as leaders of the student body. Each gives every ounce of effort each day to keep the recent tradition of Riverside football excellence in tact.

Uhaa is the only remaining starter on campus from the 2005 GISA Class AAA state champions. That season, as a sophomore, he played exclusively on defense. As a junior, he also played fullback where he was lead blocker for 2005 Times Area Player of the Year Carl Robinson.

Uhaa’s crowning achievement on the football field have come this season, when he rushed for 224 yards and three touchdowns in the season opener against Southland Academy. He’s earned the respect of Lancaster on the field for his tenacity on both sides of the ball.

Dearybury’s most proud of the fact that he’s thrown for more than 1,000 yards this season in Riverside’s new spread offense. It’s vindication for those that said the Eagles couldn’t succeed without Carl Robinson in the fold.

He still remembers coming into Riverside as a middle school student, and being told they were going to the "’08 dynasty."

"People looked at me and said I was going to be quarterback," Dearybury said. "And people said Tersoo was going to be the running back."

So the question begs being asked: What’s tougher, the leadership role on campus or that of leader on the football field?

Well, it depends on which one you ask.

"They’re really equally as tough," Dearybury said. "All day I am gathering information and being told what needs to be done on campus, and then I come into football practice and get told what we’re going to do and learn more new information."

"Being Lt. Colonel is definitely tougher," Uhaa responded. "For me, being a running back just comes easier."

This pair of best friends also don’t allow the line of responsibilities between campus life with that of stature on the football field affect their relationship.

Uhaa makes it clear he never tries to pull rank on Dearybury on the field.

"No, on the football field, I’m just a member of the team," Uhaa said with a big smile. "Now if Bill makes a bad decision, like when he gets sacked, I let him know."

Uhaa is still a little taken aback at the roles he’s taken on at Riverside. He never saw himself developing into a leader at this magnitude, it’s just something that he "found in himself."

Through his performance on campus, Uhaa’s steadily climbed the leadership ladder, starting his freshman year as assistant squad leader, to platoon sergeant as a sophomore, and then company first sergeant as a junior, before becoming Lieutenant Colonel.

He was picked from three other rising seniors over the summer to take on the highest rank on campus going into this school year by the school’s administration. According to Uhaa, they looked at every aspect of his performance on campus since coming to Riverside.

"I was just amazed and excited when I got the news that I was Lt. Colonel," Uhaa said. "I remember the promotion ceremony during the summer when I heard my name, there was a lot of anxiety."

Now he’s the big man on campus with speeches in front of the student body, and the responsibility of critiquing other commanders’ performances on campus, especially when things aren’t being done appropriately.

He prefers the constructive criticism approach, but he’s also not afraid to get in someone’s face and let them know how things work.

"I’ll tell a guy, I thought you were going to be a good leader, but maybe I was wrong," Uhaa said. "I also have to hand out discipline, and most of that I do on the spot."

Dearybury’s rise through the rank of cadets is similar to his friend’s. As a freshman, he was sergeant, then a staff sergeant as a sophomore, and a sergeant first class his junior year.

As a company commander, he is responsible for every aspect of his unit’s daily lives including how their rooms look, their grades, and drill performance, among many other things. If someone comes up short, it’s his responsibility to fix things.

Dearybury also has the constant motivation to do well with the understanding if you don’t perform on campus you could lose your rank.

Dearybury’s Charlie Company has the motivation to succeed with the distinction given out each two weeks to a new honor company for exemplary performance. His unit still is looking for honor company status for the first time this year.

"We’re gunning for it," Dearybury admitted. "I have to push my company, and never let them get down."

Uhaa and Dearybury’s experience at Riverside Military are so similar it has them intertwined for life. They know whatever they do after graduation, they have a great chance to succeed due to the training and discipline they’ve gained at Riverside on and off the field.

"I feel everything has prepared me for life," Uhaa said. "Most of all I’ve learned how to work with people."



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