Healthy Huff is key to Tigers’ success
By DAVID STEGON
It’s the name people notice first, but it’s the shoes he has to fill that makes him important. The name thing is old, tired and well he’s sick of hearing about it. So what if he shares a name with a Hall of Fame football player? That’s pretty much old news.
Last year Huff moved from running back to quarterback, replacing former Bull Run District Player of the Year Chris Jenkins and it now falls on his shoulders to help lift the Brentsville program that has had two straight losing seasons and has a new coach.
Last season, though, wasn’t complete for Huff as he partially tore his rotator cuff and had to sit out five games at the beginning of the season. When he returned, Brentsville was well on its way to a 3-7 season and there wasn’t much Huff could do to stop it.
But luckily it was only his junior year and now he has a do-over to make things right at Brentsville.
“I want him to just be himself,” said new Brentsville coach Dean Reedy. “It’s not good for someone to try to be something he’s not, because kids can see through the falseness.”
For Huff to be himself he needs to continually run the ball. While he may be the quarterback, his running back’s mentality will serve him well in the Tigers variation of the option in what he hopes will be his first full season as the Tigers’ starting quarterback.
Last year, Huff began the season under center, but soon hurt his shoulder. He attempted to fight through the injury, but eventually had to miss the first half of Brentsville’s season.
That’s in the past, though, as he will now be the focal point in Reedy’s split back offense. Huff is very laid back in his approach and does not care what kind of system the Tigers run as long as they win.
“Hey, if it works than I’ll like it,” Huff said, “and I think it’s going to work.”
A lot of it will rely on Huff. It’s his job to execute the plays and read the defenses accordingly. A lot of Reedy’s system will take some of the decision making away from Huff, but it’s only to allow him to develop his physical skills and not worry much about the mental part of the game.
“I want to let him do what God gave him the ability to do,” Reedy said.
And a big part of that ability is running with the football. He led the Tigers in rushing as a sophomore after losing the quarterback derby to Jenkins.
But the experience Huff gained in the backfield will pay off the first time he comes around his offensive line and sees an outside linebacker ready to plant him in the ground like a carrot.
“I would put him in the same classification as [2001 Heisman Trophy Winner Eric] Crouch,” Reedy said, “but don’t get me wrong, he can really pull the string if he needs to. We’re going to let him throw it and he’s done very, very well in the preseason. In the option game, though, they are going to have to defend Sam and another runner, which should be very difficult.”
Huff said his shoulder now feels fine and he is ready for the season. Last year he finished 10th in the area with 383 passing yards.
He worked throughout the off season in the Tigers weight training program and only missed a few workouts to attend a football camp in Maryland, where he worked on different skills.
“It was an all-around camp,” Huff said. “I went for quarterbacks. They let you pick what position you want. We focused on just reading defenses, throwing the ball and stuff like that.”
Reedy was impressed with Huff’s work throughout the off-season and thinks he sets a good example for the rest of the team.
Another part is his toughness. Huff tried to play after tearing his rotator cuff, but it severely hampered his ability. He also broke his pinkie finger playing for the Brentsville basketball team.
Huff missed a few weeks, but returned just in time for the regional playoffs. With his finger on his right hand hurting, Huff learned to shoot lefthanded for the final game. On the basketball court, he was not a big scorer, but did all the team’s dirty work.
“He’s not real vocal,” Reedy said. “He probably led more by example. I mean you won’t get a lot of rah rah out of him, but he plays to win and that’s what counts. In given areas he has exceptional ability and in others where he is lacking he’ll make up with drive and heart.”