Friday Night Hero: West Rowan’s Jonathan Hill
By Ronnie Gallagher
MOUNT ULLA ó West Rowan wide receiver Jonathan Hill was happy the Falcons defeated Mooresville a couple of weeks ago to wrap up the school’s fifth straight NPC championship.
He just wishes he could have had a more prominent role.
“He was really depressed after that game,” receivers coach Butch Browning said. “He thought he was open and they didn’t throw him the ball. I told him, ‘It will get better for you.’ ”
In the first round of the 3A playoffs, Hill caught two touchdown passes as West raced past Franklin 37-3.
It came at the perfect time for the senior. Leading receiver Brantley Horton suffered a broken hand in the Mooresville win.
“With Brantley out, we challenged the receivers,” head coach Scott Young said. “Somebody had to step up.”
“Expectations went way up,” he said. “We had to depend on Jonathan a lot more.”
Hill finished with three catches. The 6-foot-3 leaper made his presence felt quickly.
Early in the second quarter, West led just 7-3 as quarterback B.J. Sherrill lined up under center at Franklin’s 15-yard line.
“B.J. said, ‘Jump ball. Jump ball,’ ” Hill recalled. “He told me to go get it.”
Hill was matched up against a defensive back who stood just 5-foot-6.
“A big receiver against a little guy? You’ve got to throw it up,” Hill said. “I’m thinking, ‘I’m going to get it, no matter what.’ ”
Hill made the leaping grab for the score, starting a run of 30 straight points for West.
“Jonathan’s not going to kill you with speed,” Young said, “but he’s got a big body and is a solid possession receiver.”
Hill wasn’t through.
Two minutes before halftime, he caught a 9-yard scoring toss from Sherrill.
“I wasn’t expecting the ball,” Hill said.
Browning was especially proud of Hill’s two-touchdown night.
“To see all the hard work he put in during all those hot days in August, it makes you feel good inside as a coach,” Browning said.
Hill was expected to be a force this season, according to Young.
“Over the summer, he finally dedicated himself to improving in the offseason,” Young said.
The coach remembers a 7-on-7 passing drill against Alexander Central that opened his eyes.
“He was probably the best player on the field,” Young said. “It carried over.”
Hill’s goal this season was 35 catches. He has 23 entering the second-round matchup against Statesville ó and you can bet he’s looking forward to Friday night’s game.
“It should help his confidence knowing he can do these things when the pressure’s on,” Browning said.
Young was quick to cajole his receiver about the catch he didn’t make.
“He dropped a touchdown pass,” Young said. “He could’ve had three.”
Hill showed off his newfound confidence with a grin.
“I’m saving my best performance for this week,” he said.
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