PENNSBURG >> No matter the package out on the field, second-year Hill School football head coach Jeff Hollway should know one thing for certain.
The ball will be in good hands.
The Rams boast a barrage of talented runners coming out of the backfield highlighted by Daniel Adeboboye, Gernard Finney and Mamadou Bah.
“We’re very athletic,” Hollway noted. “We can stretch the field vertically and horizontally … and we can run at you. We’re just trying to put our kids in situations to be successful and do what they’re good at.”
There’s no second to experience, and plenty of Blues gained a wealth of experience on the field last season. That should pay off this year as the team boasts 16 seniors, most of whom picked up valuable playing time last fall.
“Gernard was only a freshman last season,” said Hollway of Finney. “He’s gained 15 pounds and he works very hard. It’s been fun to watch his transition as a player since he first got here.”
Finney and Adeboboye emerged as a dual-threat along with the graduated Pete Boone last season.
“Everyone is looking more sound and so far as a team, we’re really coming together,” said Adeboboye, a Toronto, Canada native. “Even Coach can testify to this, our practices have been way more intense and more lively than last season. So I think this season will be something to look forward to.”
Junior Syre Gruber heads into the season as the Blues’ starting signal caller for the second straight year after he took over for the injured Clayton Oliver as a freshman two seasons ago. He’ll be tasked to lead a Hill School team that finished 1-4 in the Mid-Atlantic Prep League (3-6 overall) last season and was plagued by a 5-game losing streak down the late stretch.
Gruber’s got a solid arm, an ability to tuck it and run, and most importantly plenty of wit needed to play quarterback. He had plenty of chances to showcase all of it during the team’s joint practice at the Perkiomen School earlier this week.
With another year of experience under Gruber and several teammates’ belts, Hollway believes this could be a special season for the boys in gray and blue.
“The most important thing in our league that I learned is that you have to be big and physical,” said Hollway. “I believe that we’ve improved our offense in every position on the field. Defensively, we lost two great inside linebackers in Pete (Boone) and Daion (Donaldson), which we’ll need to fill in.
“I’ve got all the confidence in our players.”
The Hill will open up on the road Sept. 8 at Wyoming Seminary, a place that’s all too familiar to Hollway.
Hollway spent three seasons at Wyoming Seminary after taking over the program following its two-year hiatus. He admits, the place will always hold a special spot in his heart.
“That’s a special game for us,” he said. “That will be a fun way to start out the season.”
The Rams opened up the 2016 campaign with an impressive 25-16 home win against Wyoming Seminary.
Getting Down on Friday
Last year, the motto was ‘Saturdays are For The Boys,’ as the Rams played all Saturday afternoon games. This season, they’ll play three games on the road under the lights including the season opener against Wyoming Seminary, a Sept. 22 game at Episcopal Academy and an Oct. 6 trip to Peddie School.
The Hill School will also hit the road this year to renew the 130th game in its annual rivalry with Lawrenceville. It’s become one of the oldest, most well-known rivalries in all of high school sports across the country.
Right now, though, the Hill School-Lawrenceville Cup likely has a pretty comfortable spot inside a trophy shelf on Lawrenceville’s campus. The Big Red has now claimed the previous seven matchups against the Rams, dating back to The Hill’s 28-0 win to cap the 2009 season.