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Hubler fits right in at North Penn

It was midway through the first quarter Friday night when North Penn faced a 4th-and-3 at its own 35-yard line.

Lined up in punt formation, the Knights caught Garnet Valley off guard, perfectly executing a fake punt that gained 30 yards. It was a well-orchestrated bit of trickery with a simple, sound strategy — give the ball to Jake Hubler.

“I was thinking I had to go up the middle,” said Hubler, who took the direct snap, “and I saw everyone crash inside. And I thought ‘there’s open space on the outside.’ So I just gotta break it out and go for it.

“The fake punt. We’ve been practicing it for the longest time,” the senior said with a big smile. “We just hadn’t called it ever. So coming out here tonight and getting it, it was just line up, do it, and get to where I need to go. And I got the first down — it all played out perfectly.”

Hubler has been a perfect fit for the Knights, a player they can go to in a variety of ways, even in as tight a spot as a 4th-and-3 in your own territory.

The drive was kept alive and four plays later, running back Nick Dillon scored to boost the Knights’ lead to 21-0 and send them on their way to a 48-38 victory.

It was a total, all-around effort by the Knights, their seventh district crown made possible by players like Hubler, who contributed on offense, defense as well as that very memorable play on special teams that kept momentum on NP’s side.

“It’s absolutely amazing. Last year, coming off the district championship loss (to Upper Dublin) and then coming here and doing it, it’s amazing,” the wide receiver and safety said. “We’re 14-0 and we’ve won the district championship — you can’t ask for anything more.

“Ever since last year, we’ve had our mind set on coming back to the District 1 Championship and winning it,” Hubler said, “regardless of how it all played out — that was our goal.”

The speedster served as an inviting target for quarterback Reece Udinski, bringing in five passes for 59 yards, including two that turned third downs into firsts.

One of those was a 13-yard reception on 3rd-and-11 at the North Penn 34, pushing the Knights along to a third-quarter score by Dillon that lifted the margin to 35-17.

Hubler again came through on third down early in the fourth, making a 15-yard catch that helped set up a 28-yard run to the end zone by Ricky Johns, as North Penn began to put the game away at 48-31.

Hubler also patrolled the secondary, making sure the run-oriented Jaguars didn’t get much going through the air, their 11 pass attempts netting just 61 yards.

One of five senior captains along with Udinski, Johns, Dan Drop and Nick Vasger, Hubler came through in a variety of ways. His versatility drew plenty of attention after Friday’s victory.

“Honestly, I wasn’t even thinking about it much until everyone started coming up to me,” Hubler said with a laugh. “I said ‘listen, I just gotta do what I gotta do for the team.’ It’s a team effort. We have to go out there, play for the team and do our own jobs.”

Top Photo: North Penn’s Jake Hubler (19) runs a fake punt for a first down in the first half of the Knights’ District 1-6A final against Garnet Valley at Crawford Stadium on Friday, Nov. 25, 2016. (Pete Bannan/Digital First Media)

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