Hill finds the goal line
GRANITE QUARRY — Points had been hard to come by for East Rowan going into last week’s game.
But the Mustangs had a good time on Friday night as teenagers are known to do. Defensive lineman Austin Hill was one of them as he scored his first touchdown at the high school level on a interception return. Hill says he wasn’t aware of his stats until after the game, but ask him how long his run into the end zone was and you’re answered promptly.
“34 yards,” Hill says. “I was in the right place at the right time.”
The jolt of enthusiasm was the late-season pick-me-up the Mustangs needed to stay in playoff contention.
Hill, a returning all-county and all-conference selection, helped East snap a three-game skid Friday at Northwest Cabarrus. The Mustang coaching staff recorded Hill with 11 tackles, three of which went for a loss, and two sacks by the technically sound senior still somewhat new to the defensive line.
He’s still mastering the position, but he was just plain masterful Friday.
“I get enjoyment out of beating the person in front of me when they’re bigger than me,” Hill said from East Rowan’s locker room. “I’m proud to play that position.”
Hill is 5-foot-10 and 200 pounds, somewhat undersized for a defensive lineman, but disciplined and gritty enough to handle more imposing figures in the trenches. He views himself as having a linebacker’s body with a linebacker’s grit.
“It’s about coming off the ball fast and squeezing the lineman into the gap beside you and holding your spot,” Hill said.
Hill started last year as a linebacker and was moved up front in a regular season game against Concord to pressure B.J. Beecher. His play has given East a tenacious front along with guys like Dock Corpening and Robert Barringer. Hill surprises you with his quickness, which he uses to run the 300-meter hurdles in track.
“For him to get in there and battle with the offensive lineman, he has to do things right,” East coach Danny Misenheimer said. “He’s probably our best technical guy. He makes tackles in situations that he shouldn’t.”
Had East fallen to NWC, its postseason hopes might have been dashed. At 3-4, there’s still hope for a winning season with Friday’s monstrous tilt with West Rowan looming. East broke West’s county win streak last year
“I’m anxious,” Hill said. “I want to play that game right now.”
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