It may be early October but the Hun School football team didn’t hesitate in celebrating its 41-0 win over the Hill School (Pa.) last Saturday by dousing head coach John Law with a bucket of water.
After losing its first four games under new head coach Law, the Raiders had plenty of reason to treat the victory like a championship effort.
“We were so hungry for this win,” said junior running back Christopher Sharp. “At 0-4, we needed this win. This is a great game, a great feeling right now.”
Even though Hun jumped out to a 14-0 lead, the coaches didn’t want the players feeling too good about themselves.
“In the locker room, everybody was happy but the coaches came to us and said we have got to play like we are down 14-0 right now so we have to come out stronger than we did in the first half,” recalled Sharp. “That really helped us.”
The Raiders produced a strong second half, scoring 14 points in the third quarter and tacking on 13 more in the fourth while stifling the Hill offense. Hun’s final score for the day came on a four-yard touchdown run by former Princeton High star Zack DiGregorio.
“We have come out strong in the first quarter or the beginning of the second quarter this season and then we just die off,” said Sharp.
“This past week of practice, we conditioned and worked and worked. It is really paying off now, we are finishing.”
Sharp played a big role in finishing off Hill, rushing for 121 yards and a touchdown.
“I feel as though I had a good game but it is all due to the line,” said Sharp. “They played a great game.”
It was a very good feeling for Sharp and his teammates to get that first win for their coach.
“I love Coach Law, personally I feel like he is one of the greatest coaches in New Jersey,” asserted Sharp.
“He is great and this win for him feels great. I know that there is a lot of talking, people thinking it is his fault that we are losing but it really is not. I am so happy we got this win for him.”
Coach Law, for his part, was more happy for his players than he was for himself.
“I have been at it a long time and it does feel good,” said a beaming Law.
“It is never about me in my 24 years here. I am absolutely thrilled that we got a win but it is about the kids for me. I just love that they were so happy today. I have been looking for that. We kept believing in them. We kept grinding and I told them if they do the basics, this game will be good to them and I thought the game was good to them today.”
The Hun players put their noses to the grindstone last week as they looked to break their losing streak.
“On Monday, we said we were going to strip the bus down and then rebuild it,” said Law.
“The biggest thing was their mental approach in how to play the game for four quarters. That was the focus on Monday, just having them be mentally tough and handling the pressure of the game; handling the ebbs and flows of it and not crumbling and not get down. That is what it is all about and what we have been fighting for for four weeks.”
Law liked the way Sharp handled things as he not only paced the Hun rushing attack but played well at defensive back.
“He is learning and learning fast, now he gets it,” said Law, noting that Sharp was moved to running back this season after playing receiver last year.
“This is what we expected out of him and I am real proud of him today. He played both sides of the ball, he put a lot on his back today and I am so happy for him.”
The play of the Hun offensive line also made Law happy. “We got back to the old fashioned Hun way to play,” said Law. “If you can control the line of scrimmage, you can control a lot of other things.”
The Raiders also dominated in the trenches on defense, getting after Hill quarterback Matt Foltz all game long as they picked up five sacks.
“The big thing was that we wanted the quarterback uncomfortable and I think that was the key,” said Law.
“I ran a three-front and I never had to get to a four-front. We were putting on pressure that way. Our goal was to keep a quarterback like that uncomfortable and they did and it worked for us.”
Hun can’t start feeling comfortable about things as it plays at high-powered Lawrenceville (3-2) on October 26.
“We know we have a test against Lawrenceville, that is going to be a major emotional game for us,” said Law.
“We are going to use this as our foundation to move forward. I have a lot of confidence now that they will compete. If they compete and they take the right mental approach to the game, we are going to show up and that is all we can do.”
Sharp, for his part, believes that the Raiders will compete very hard against the Big Red.
“We are going to practice harder than we did this past week,” maintained Sharp.
“It was a great confidence builder but we are staying humble and we are not going to get too cocky with it. We are just going to come out strong.”