RAVENNA – The Ravenna football team is really lucky to have a guy like senior Hunter Hogan around.
He will happily play any role the coaches ask him to play, and he’s very good at whatever he does.
Last season Hogan played pretty exclusively on offense as a slot receiver and had a great season, rushing for 695 yards and six touchdowns and catching 14 passes for 158 yards and two TDs.
This year the Bulldogs had other needs that had to be filled, following the graduation of a lot of key players.
The first was at quarterback, following the loss of big-armed Kyle Beebe, who led the Bulldogs down the field for a lot of points for two seasons.
That job went to Hogan, even though he had played very little quarterback in his life.
The Bulldogs also needed help on defense, particularly at the crucial free safety position.
That job also went to Hogan, even though he hadn’t played much on both sides of the ball for several years.
So Hogan’s duties have more than doubled in one year.
He now has to run the offense and pass the ball, instead of just being its most dangerous runner.
He has to defend against both the pass and run as a free safety, after spending most of last season on the sidelines when the D was on the field.
On top of all of that, he’s also the Bulldogs’ placekicker (a very good one, at that) and a kick returner (which he’s great at, too) – and he plays for the varsity soccer team on the side.
Another athlete might wither under the weight of that workload, but Hogan has thrived.
Through four games, Hogan has rushed 50 times for 395 yards and eight touchdowns. He’s completed 26 of 48 passes for 484 yards and three touchdowns, with only one interception.
He’s also been very active on defense, recording 23 tackles so far this year, along with one interception.
Most game days this season have been a lot of fun for Hogan, whose team is off to a 3-1 start and plays Mason County Central this Friday.
Against Shelby last Friday, he had touchdown runs of 1, 9, 53 and 63 yards. He completed touchdown passes for 34, 61 and 35 yards. Her rushed for 173 yards and passed for 232.
Against Holton in Week 3, he had 11- and 9-yard touchdown runs, returned a punt for a touchdown and returned a kickoff 85 yards for another TD.
He was also Ravenna’s leading tackler with five stops.
“I don’t know, but I could use some of that,” said Ravenna head coach Justin Ego, when asked where all of Hogan’s energy comes from. “He’s a competitor. I noticed that since I came to Ravenna. If it’s any kjnd of sport or contest, he will do everything he can to do it well and put his team in the best possible position to win.”
Hogan’s conversion to quarterback has been pretty amazing, when you consider all the responsibilities that come with that position, and his lack of prior experience.
“He’s taken the job head-on and embraced it,” Coach Ego said. “They say it’s the hardest position in any sport. You have to know the blocking schemes, what routes everyone is running, make sure the running back is lining up right. You have to know your position and 10 other positions.
“Am I surprised he’s doing so well? Not really. He adapts and adjusts so easily.”
Hogan’s success at rushing from the quarterback position is no stunner, because he’s always done a lot of damage with his legs.
The real eye-opener has been his passing, something he had never really done in a live game before.
“He’s doing well, and he gets better every week as he learns the throwing motions,” Ego said. ‘His ability to run really opens up the pass for him. He worked on that all summer – throwing while running – and I knew his ability to scramble would be a strength.”
Hogan says he prefers to throw on the run, rather than stand in the pocket and look for receivers.
“I kind of like to throw on the run, probably because I run so much,” Hogan said. “People say it’s a lot harder (than throwing from the pocket), but I don’t find it much harder to do. I just like rolling out and finding a receiver, or having a receiver come back and find an open spot.”
Hogan says playing defense has not been a burden, even though it means he rarely leaves the field anymore.
“I haven’t played both ways in two years, but I want to be out there all the time,” he said. “I put on like 25 pounds this year, which helps a lot with defense. I knew I was going to take a lot more hits this year, so I bulked up a little bit. I worked hard in the weight room and I drink a lot of milk. Whole milk is all I drink.”
The only real blip so far in Hogan’s season came in Week 1, when the Bulldogs lost a big lead and fell to a very good Beal City team 22-21.
Hogan sat out most of the second half, due to cramping in the hot and humid weather. That was one situation where a little less milk, and a lot more water, might have definitely helped.
“We weren’t hydrated, and we weren’t ready for the second half,” he said. “We had to put someone at quarterback who really hadn’t played there since the fifth grade, and I was responsible for that for not hydrating enough. I stretched out for a quarter and a half and came back at the end, but I couldn’t really run.”