Hylton 49, Freedom 6
Throughout his high school football career, Hylton senior running back Courtney Anderson has been susceptible to injuries, prompting observers to wonder just what kind of college prospect the powerful yet nimble runner really is.
"People have been waiting to see, what can this guy do for the whole season?" Anderson said. "I still have a few more games left, so I'm crossing my fingers right now."
Meantime, he's crossing goal lines. Anderson rushed 19 times for a season-high 226 yards and four touchdowns Friday night in two-plus quarters of action in the No. 2 Bulldogs' 49-6 win at Freedom. That bumped his season TD total to 14.
One way to avoid getting hurt is to not get touched, which the 5-foot-10, 205-pound Anderson managed to do on at least one of his scoring runs against the first-year varsity Eagles. The touchdowns came from 12, 40, 19 and 30 yards.
Another way to avoid being nicked is to stiffen your workout regimen.
"My dad [Cecil] had told me that the offseason is the most important season because when you work out, you're working out so you don't injure yourself," Anderson said.
"The injuries have diminished his numbers somewhat -- he was an 1,100-yard rusher last year -- but we're happy for him," Hylton Coach Lou Sorrentino said. "We're certainly excited to see him do well."
Some area schools postponed games to yesterday or tomorrow, but Hylton (7-0, 2-0 in the Cardinal District) was looking forward to playing in the rain Friday, just for the experience in case they face similar conditions in an even more important game.
The slippery ball might have played a role in the Bulldogs committing a few fumbles, but all in all, Sorrentino was pleased with his players' response as they head into what should be their toughest game of the season Friday at home against No. 20 Woodbridge.
Freedom Coach John Brown was equally pleased about his Eagles (1-6, 0-2), not so much for how they performed in the mist but how they weathered Hylton.
Brown graduated from Hylton and coached there for several years as an assistant for his father, Bill, on two Division 6 state championship teams, and on one for Sorrentino. (The younger Brown said it is a "possibility" that his father, currently principal at Forest Park, might join his Freedom staff one day).
"What we wanted to do is what we did -- we came out and played as hard as we possibly could," Brown said. "I don't think we were intimidated one bit. . . . If the score gets 50 points in our favor, or 50 points in their favor, we still want to come out and hit, hit, hit, hit, hit.
"I think this could be a turning point in a program. Even though the score's lopsided, we didn't back down from them."
Midway through the fourth quarter, with the Eagles trailing by 37 points, the Freedom bench was chanting for the defense, a sort of youthful gesture that belied the score and the team's six-game losing streak since a 25-3 season-opening win over first-year Stafford County school Mountain View.
The Eagles managed only six offensive yards in the first half and did not gain a first down until four minutes into the third quarter.
Hylton had a far easier time. The Bulldogs' third touchdown came on a 15-yard interception return by senior Darren James, and a pickoff by senior linebacker Tony Keiling a few minutes later set up the Bulldogs at the Freedom 14-yard line for another easy score.
"I always tell people: We're a young team, and that's a fact," Brown said. "But it's not an excuse. We try to play every game like we're a veteran team, even if sometimes it doesn't show the way we want it to show."