It is very rare that a 14-year-old freshman is deemed talented enough to start on the varsity football team. For Hubbard's L.J. Scott, that convention has been turned on its head.
The 6-foot, 200-pounder has been limited in carries this season by Eagles coach Brian Hoffman, but Scott hasn't let that stop him from producing.
After a 22-carry, 196-yard, five-touchdown performance Friday in a 39-6 rout of Liberty, Scott now has 882 yards rushing on only 93 carries (a 9.5-yard average) with 10 touchdowns. His performance against the Leopards earned Scott recognition as the Tribune Chronicle's Week 8 Player of the Week.
"I enjoyed it. I enjoy every moment of it," Scott said of his season. "It feels pretty good. I was hoping it would be like this as I grew up. I've been playing since I was little. Hopefully I'll get better. I've made it there and I'm happy to be with the guys I play with. Ashton Owens and I have had some good times. I've had a great time on the varsity with them."
"He did a nice job last week of following his blockers, running with some speed and power, and making good decisions on cutback seams," Hoffman said. "The biggest thing is he took care of the football. He ran very well. He's got a nice burst and our offensive line did a really nice job. To his credit, Larry made the most of it."
Scott was able to get more carries against the Leopards both because he has become more comfortable in the offense, and because the Eagles held Liberty to just 32 total yards, they were able to keep the ball on the ground and in Scott's hands.
"He's started every game," Hoffman said. "Last week was the first time he carried the ball over 20 times. He's had some big games. He had 200 yards against East Liverpool and he only did it in about eight carries."
Hoffman said that it was a goal not to overwhelm Scott with too much, too soon, but L.J. has handled everything that has been thrown at him very well.
"There's no question Larry's definitely a special player," Hoffman said. "He possesses a lot of talent. I sometimes think for a minute he's only 14 years old. As a coach I sit back and take that in perspective. I don't want to say we held him back but I don't like giving a kid 14 years old 200 carries in a season. As the season's been progressing we've been giving him more totes. We're letting him get more game exposure and experience. He's starting to understand our game plan and how he fits in it. I'm very pleased with his progress. His running ability coincides with our offensive line. They're starting to play better. A lot of those guys are first-year players."
One good thing for Hubbard is its offensive balance. If teams think they can stack the line to stop the Eagles' ground game, Hoffman said his team will turn the tables on them.
"Obviously in terms of game planning, we try to do our best to have him be a part of it," he said. "We kind of go on the philosophy we want to run the football but also be very balanced. If teams load up to take away our running game we'll go another avenue to move the football."
Hubbard is now 5-3 and 2-0 in the All-American Conference White Tier. The Eagles' record has them on top of the division with road games at Struthers and Niles remaining on the schedule.
"We have two games left and still have the league title in our sites," Hoffman said. "(Struthers is) a big game for us and we need to approach it that way."
As far as his future goals, Scott said, "After high school, I want to go to Ohio State and play football there."