Jarett Hunter is listed on Louisa County’s football roster at 5-foot-10, 170 pounds.
The senior running back plays much bigger than his measurables and his impact on Coach Will Patrick’s team is immeasurable.
Last Friday, Hunter carried the ball a season-high 38 times for a career-best 234 yards and four touchdowns as Louisa County rolled to a 36-17 victory over Western Albemarle. That production was more than enough to garner him Schewels Athlete of the Week honors.
“Last week, a lot of things were clicking,” Hunter said. “Offensive line and backs had great blocking, Coach Patrick made great play calls and the holes where there. I don’t rank games on performance, but on how physical or tiring it was and that game is up there. It’s probably third after [last year’s] state championship game against Salem and the second-round playoff game against Monacan.”
Hunter remembers last year’s 43-22 loss to Salem and the emotional walk off the field at Zable Stadium in Williamsburg. Following the game, senior leaders Malik Bell, Job Whalen and Raquan Jones pulled him aside and told him this season was his time to shine.
“Malik, Job and Ray were like big brothers to me the past two years,” Hunter said. “They told me how hard it is to be the guy coach trusts with the ball every night and that your body would feel that the next day. They told me to finish what they had started last season and go win a state ring.”
The senior understands that champions aren’t crowned in October, but he is doing his part to keep his promise. Through five games, Hunter has rushed for 602 yards and 10 touchdowns for a Louisa offense that has averaged nearly 425 yards a game.
Patrick has shown a commitment to the run this season as Louisa has averaged more than 300 yards on the ground. The first-year coach has incorporated several packages and formations to utilize the skillset of his athletes.
Hunter has lined up at quarterback in the team’s “Rhino package”, as well as running back and receiver. He also has played cornerback and safety and served as a return guy on special teams.
“Each position has a lot of responsibilities that come along with it,” Hunter said. “Coach Patrick’s offense is fast-paced, and you have to be in shape to play for him.”
The senior said the key to the team’s success has been the play of the offensive line.
“Our playbook has a set blocking schemes, but coach allows me to pick and choose what hole I want to hit on certain plays,” Hunter said. “Knowing coach trusts me allows me to run that much more free.”
Hunter’s favorite play in Patrick’s scheme is called, “Guts”, which perfectly summarizes his mindset with the ball in his hands.
“The play design is exactly what it sounds like,” Hunter said. “When I get the ball, I’m looking for the first available hole at the line of scrimmage. I’m powering through, but my goal is to get to the second [level] of the defense and make people miss and score.”
“Guts” was the play call last Friday on his 15-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell and New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. are two players Hunter tries to emulate. One thing that he’s picked up from them has really helped his game this season.
“I never switched the ball to my left hand, but I understand that my off arm is a weapon now and made that switch,” Hunter said. “My blocking isn’t always the best, but I’ll sell out for whoever’s running the ball behind me.”
Hunter is the third person in his family to don the green and gold for Louisa County’s football team. Andre Hunter graduated in 2009 and went on to run track at Virginia Commonwealth University and now serves as an assistant coach at Mills Godwin High in Richmond. Anthony Hunter graduated in 2010 and went to West Virginia Wesleyan and now plays semi-pro football with the Virginia Silverbacks.
Growing up, Jarett said he liked watching his brothers play sports. He started organized basketball at the age of 5 and added football the next year.
“Football used to be a sport I played to stay in shape for basketball,” Hunter said. “But I’ve grown to love them both.”
Hunter is a standout performer for the Lions’ basketball team as well, and plays on the AAU circuit with Virginia Elite. He said his favorite subject is history and serves in a leadership role in a club for minority males at Louisa County called OBK (Our Brothers Keeper).
He also enjoys dabbling in another hobby.
“I don’t have any hidden talents, but I’m always trying to sing,” Hunter said. “No matter how my voice sounds.”
Hunter’s performance on the gridiron has been pitch perfect, despite not being at full health.
“I’ve been a little banged up, but my teammates have shouldered the load in a big way,” Hunter said. “It’s a one-game at a time mindset for us, but I want us to keep this momentum going.”
College coaches have also taken note, as Virginia, Richmond and James Madison have expressed interest in Hunter as a slot receiver or return specialist at the next level.
As the king of the jungle, a lion constantly faces challenges from other species to take over his crown. Hunter faces a similar challenge ever week as the featured back in Louisa’s offense.
“I probably think about that once each week, “he said. “When I play, I’m playing like no one knows me and I’m trying to make a name for myself. I love getting to the outside and defenses who make good outside tackles challenge me to be and play better.”