Even before he played a down as a starting varsity quarterback, Hylton sophomore Travon McMillian carried a lot of clout with the team, teammates say. He scolded players who took shortcuts in practice and displayed other leadership characteristics.
In his team’s season-opening 35-14 win Thursday night at defending Virginia AAA Division 6 champion Battlefield, McMillian further validated his burgeoning status. He rushed for 99 yards and three touchdowns, threw for 84 yards and committied no turnovers in a satisfying victory against the team which had knocked the Bulldogs out of the playoffs last year.
“I wasn’t nervous at all,” said McMillian, who spent part of the day listening to the new Lil Wayne CD (his quick review: not as good as its predecessors). “We just came prepared. That’s all I can say. We just came prepared.”
Sixteenth-ranked Battlefield likely did, too, but even so, McMillian had his way with the reigning champs. In scoring his first touchdown, he dropped back to pass, didn’t like what he saw and tore up the middle for a 63-yard score midway through the first quarter.
On the Bulldogs’ next possession, McMillian orchestrated an 11-play, 74-yard drive on which they needed only one third-down conversion, a screen pass to senior Michael Price. McMillian had a hand in all but 12 yards of the drive.
Later in the second quarter, McMillian connected with senior Michael James on a 37-yard toes-hugging-the-sideline play, a possession that ended with McMillian popping in from five yards for his third touchdown of the half.
“I think his composure really came through,” Hylton Coach Tony Lilly said. “The first series I kind of saw a little bit of a deer in the headlights. I knew in the beginning of the game he could tend to let the volume of the game kind of take over his mind. I just told him to calm down and relax and have some fun with his talent.
“He’s a 10th-grader, and I kind of have to remind myself of that all the time.”
Battlefield (1-1), which did not pick up its initial first down until there were eight minutes left in the first half, scored late in the second period when junior Jack Taylor recovered a teammate’s fumble in the end zone.
The Bulldogs (1-0) went up 28-7 early in the third quarter on a double pass from McMillian to senior Jaleel Dukes to Price, a nifty 41-yard connection.
Hylton junior linebacker E.J. Levenberry juggled and hauled in an interception that he returned 42 yards for the Bulldogs’ final touchdown.