CONCORD – The Northwest Cabarrus football team was up, 20-0, in the second quarter on the 1-yard line, threatening to push its lead against the Jay M. Robinson Bulldogs to four scores.
Trojans senior defensive end Andre Hill found himself where he had never been in his football life before this year: on the offensive side of the ball and lined up behind the offensive linemen.
Hill had already played this situation in his mind many times in his backyard, calling out the plays to work on the routes and find his blockers. But now he was on a football field in a real game, and this time, Trojans coach Brandon Gentry added a little wrinkle to the play.
Northwest Cabarrus quarterback Nick Wilds-Lawing called “Hut,” ran to his left and shovel-passed it to Hill. He caught it and ran through an open hole for his first career touchdown.
“It felt great,” Hill said. “It felt really great.”
Hill, one of the star players on the Trojans defensive line, has four sacks on the year, including one he added during Northwest Cabarrus’ 62-35 win over Jay M. Robinson Friday night.
But now, he’s earned his way onto the offensive side as a lead blocker, and on Friday, he had his first chance to carry the ball.
“We wanted to reward Andre for his hard work and effort by letting him touch the ball,” said Gentry.
Gentry described Hill as a player who plays with “all his heart and soul,” and someone who will leave it all on the field for his team.
“Sometimes, you hear cliches about kids willing to run through brick walls, but that’s literally Andre,” Gentry said. “If we tell Andre to go tackle that goal post, he’s going to do it for the team.”
Northwest Cabarrus tailback LJ Currie, who had 222 more rushing yards and three more touchdowns than Hill Friday, said he’s been a big part of the team’s success this season.
“He’s a big contributor in this team. He’s a leader,” Currie said.
There’s no telling how many touchdowns Hill will score the rest of the season, but he’ll definitely continue to prevent touchdowns for opponents the rest of the year.
Hill possesses a quick first step, a low center of gravity and a motor that runs like the Energizer Bunny. He credits those skills to his work in another sport.
The 6-foot, 220-pounder is also a likely state-title contender for the Trojans wrestling team, and he said his work on the mat has helped him immensely in football.
“Wrestling helps me with my flexibility,” Hill said. “For defensive linemen, low man wins. And wrestling helps me stay low and come off the ball on the load, so it’s helped me a ton.”
Despite the win on Friday, it wasn’t the best night for the Trojans defense, allowing five touchdowns to a team that hadn’t scored more than two touchdowns in a game all season. Hill said a game like this shows that the Trojans can be beaten defensively and that they still have plenty of work to do if they want to make a deep run in the playoffs.
“Defense wins championships, and I want to be a part of that and lead the defense,” Hill said. “We didn’t do it as well as I wanted to (Friday), but we will get better on Monday.”