Hamley has more on his to-do list
CHRISTIANSBURG – Too bad Jake Hamley won’t be able to specialize this year.
That means no going off by himself day after day to work with Christiansburg High kicking coach Dusty Cromer on booting the football.
That was then:
Kick after kick Hamley would boot. Day after day he’d kick.
It was a great life bopping footballs into the bright blue autumn sky to his heart’s content.
Then Tim Cromer, head coach and son of kicking coach Cromer, informed Hamley last winter that his days of specialization were over. That more would be required. Not only must he kick, but also punt. Not only must he punt and kick, but he must punt, kick, and start at wide receiver.
Oh, and one more head’s up, said the coach: Get yourself ready to be available for defensive secondary duties as needed.
Hamley’s blissfully uncluttered days of kicking specialization were long gone.
“Coach just told me to try my hardest and we’d go from there,” Hamley said. “I did exactly what he told me. It has been a change.”
People who knew Christiansburg saw it coming. The team that was state Group AA Division 4 runner-up last year had holes to fill. It was the football equivalent of an all-hands-on-deck deal. Mr. Hamley, report for duty.
“Basically, we’ve always known he has some ability,” Tim Cromer said. “He was fast; he could do some things. But he was on a football team that had a whole lot of talent and he was a freshman and sophomore kicker for us. So we basically had him kicking only.”
Being able to specialize like that with a kicker was nice, but …
“That bit us in the tail when we played Hidden Valley in the Region IV semis and he got hit on kickoff cover and got diagnosed with a concussion,” Tim Cromer said. “We played the regional final against Magna Vista without him. We were very tentative this year about putting him on the field and letting him do some stuff.”
Plans change as a situation dictates.
“When we got into fall camp this year, we just knew with his athleticism and what he could do, that he was just going to have to help us,” Tim Cromer said.
Hamley has. He’s not catching a lot of passes because Christiansburg doesn’t throw many. He is blocking downfield and doing the little things, though. As for his punting, he was punching them out there at a 37.8-yard per game clip going into last week’s Salem tilt, which stood sixth in the Timesland rankings.
“We’ve been asking him to do some directional punting where he’s putting it out of bounds, so his average could be better than it is,” Dusty Cromer said.
Hamley’s PAT’s have been sound. His 27-yard field goal in overtime was the difference in a big 31-28 win at Franklin County.
“When overtime started, they had the ball and we called a timeout,” Hamley said “Coach told us, OK, we’re going to stop them, then we’re going to kick a field goal and go home.”
The Demons engineered the required fourth down stop, Hamley went in next snap, and belted the football through the uprights.
“I was sitting there before going, ‘I can hit it.’ I was nervous. I guess anybody would be with a game-winner. But knowing
the coaches trusted me enough to put me in there in the first place, that really did calm me down a lot just knowing they had faith I could put it through. I put it through and I was excited when I came off the field.”
He was also looking ahead.
“Hopefully, I’ll get another chance like that.”
The stakes get higher with each game. The Blue Demons (5-3, 0-3 River Ridge District) are trying to snap a three-game losing streak when they play host to Cave Spring Friday. Christansburg is still in good shape in the Region IV postseason points chase standing fourth behind Salem, Magna Vista, and Hidden Valley with 175 . The Demons will be playing the next two weeks (they entertain Blacksburg Nov. 2) for a first round regional bye.
Hamley plans to be in the thick of it.
“It’s been a pleasure to play wide receiver,” he said. “Coach always tells the receivers before anything else, we’re blockers first. That’s perfectly fine with me long as I get to play.”
There’s no question he wants to play.
“He’s an athlete and a capable kid,” Dusty Cromer said. “He came to me the other day and said ‘Hey, you reckon Coach would let me return punts? I used to return them in sandlot and eighth grade.’ I said, ‘Jake, I don’t think so. You’re kind of doing everything now. If you get hurt, we’re going to be kind of hurting.’”
Well, 11th-grader Hamley is only 5-foot-7, 149 pounds …
“But he has a stout heart,” Dusty Cromer said.
That and a big foot.
By Ray Cox
The Roanoke Times | 381-1672
No Comments »
No comments yet.