Illness and injury have kept Severna Park's Chris Hunt off the field, but they haven't kept him from contributing to the team

Down but not out

Football

November 08, 2006|By Alejandro Danois | Alejandro Danois,Special to the Sun

Severna Park senior wide receiver-defensive back Chris Hunt has always been a team player, so he isn't about to focus on his frustration instead of the team's goals.

Coming off an All-County junior season, Hunt was sidelined in summer practices with mononucleosis. Then, after getting himself back into playing shape and beginning to hit his stride, he suffered what might be a season-ending hamstring injury Oct. 20.

"The injury was disappointing, but it's not about me," said Hunt, who still holds out a glimmer of hope that he can return if the Falcons make a deep playoff run. "I wasn't expecting this at all, but it's all about the team, and I can still do what I can to help them out."

Although he can't run, Hunt, who suffered a pulled hamstring and torn tendon in the double overtime loss to Annapolis, still attends practice and hits the weight room with the Falcons. A varsity starter since the first game of his sophomore year, he believes he still has something to offer.

"I hope I can come back," Hunt said. "I might never be able to suit up again in football pads, and I wasn't ready for that. It's been difficult trying to keep a positive attitude, and it hurts watching everyone else play. But right now, I can still help out by guiding the younger guys toward getting the job done."

Before the injury, the coaching staff had been preparing Hunt for his debut at running back, which they believed would have made the Falcons even more formidable in the playoffs.

Instead of enjoying his final days of football, however, Hunt is now preoccupied with physical therapy, consumed by exercises to strengthen his hamstring.

A lot was expected this season from Hunt, who last season caught 27 passes for 560 yards and eight touchdowns, compiled 35 tackles and broke up 22 passes with three interceptions.

While the rest of the Severna Park team was sweating through two-a-day conditioning drills last summer, however, Hunt was sidelined with mononucleosis. He took the field in the season opener against Calvert Hall with only two noncontact practices under his belt.

Hunt played himself into shape during the early season schedule, and by the time the Falcons defeated Old Mill, 21-14, on Oct. 13, he was playing the way everyone envisioned he would at the start of the season.

"Chris is an amazing kid and a pure, remarkable athlete," Severna Park coach J.P. Hines said. "He's smart, very tough and performs under any circumstance."

Receiving the opening kickoff, Old Mill marched efficiently down the field and scored the game's first touchdown. On Severna Park's ensuing possession, Hunt set the tone for what the Old Mill defense could expect for the remainder of the game.

On a play-action fake, he sprinted toward the defensive back assigned to cover him and settled into a blocking stance. As the defender bit on the run fake, Hunt ran a fade route and caught a 68-yard touchdown pass that tied the score at 7-7.

In a tightly contested fourth quarter - after his second touchdown - Hunt saved his best for last. Facing a fourth-and-goal from the Patriots' 28, Hunt ran a crisp post route from his left split end position. Looking back at Pat Morrison, who was flushed out of the pocket, Hunt reversed field and ran toward the sideline, parallel to the fleeing Morrison.

Wedged between the safety and the cornerback, inches from the out-of-bounds line, he made an improbable, leaping catch at the 3 with both defenders draped around him. He then ducked, managed to stay inbounds, and dived into the end zone with his arms outstretched.

The catch proved to be the winning score, and Hunt finished the game with four catches for 142 yards.

The following week against Annapolis, however, Hunt's fortunes changed for the worse.

Playing defensive back and fighting off a blocker in pursuit of a sweeping ball carrier in the opening minutes of the second quarter, Hunt's legs got tangled with another player. Pushed from behind, he hit the turf awkwardly as the pursuing pile of defenders landed on his leg. As his leg flattened out, he heard something snap.

After the injury, the Falcons fell behind 21-7 before fighting back and eventually losing 27-21 in double overtime.

By the spring, he should be fully recovered to participate in lacrosse, which is considered his best sport. A returning first-team All-County midfielder for the Falcons, who've won two state championships during his career, Hunt has already accepted a scholarship to play next year for the University of North Carolina, where he'll be reunited with his older brother Ben, a sophomore midfielder for the Tar Heels.

"He's a special football player who can give, and take a mean hit," Hines said of Hunt, who has 18 receptions for 343 yards and five touchdowns this season, in addition to 23 solo tackles, four assists, nine passes deflected and one sack. "He could play college football if he wanted to.

"I can't say enough about him. He's unselfish, a team captain and natural leader who does whatever it takes to help our team."

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