When I showed up at Fox Lane High School late this morning, the coaches were working on the offense, rotation the first and second string every 10 plays or so. My first impression was that the quarterback for both units was athletic, accurate, strong-armed and could really throw on the run. Even against his body. I was stunned. Few teams have a legit passer on their roster, let alone two.
Of course, it didn’t take long before I learned the obvious: the QBs were one in the same, junior T.J. Hallock. He played last year as a defensive back but never saw any playing time under center because of Jesse Hunt. Still, Hallock appears prepared to assume control of the Fox Lane offense, one of the most pass-happy in the section.
From what I learned today, Hallock represents the position Fox Lane finds itself in for its first season in Class AA. The Foxes graduated 22 seniors, including the prolific duo of Hunt and WR Timmy Muller and a big, dominant two-way starter in Noah Hammer, but they return a solid group of starters led by a big junior class. Hallock is hardly alone.
Fox Lane’s numbers have fallen to 34 this year because its senior class is small. That’s down from nearly 50 a year ago when the Foxes won their league before falling upset victim to Lakeland in the Class A quarterfinals.
Because the coaching staff saw a lack of experience coming in 2010, it prepared the Class of 2012 for early duty, according to head coach Bill Broggy. Five sophomores started last season and will play key roles again: Hallock (QB/DB), Nick Grasso (SS), Anthony Grasso (LG/LB), Spencer Chernus (RB/S), and Will Trawick (TE/LB). Two seniors (and one impressive physical specimen) who played a major role last year are back as well: RB/LB Karanja Elliot and Cameron Stephens, a 6-foot-5, 220-pound TE/DE. Those seven will form a solid core for Fox Lane, but they’ll need to remain healthy.
Elliot and Chernus will serve as the main ball carriers. Trawick, who has gained 25 or 30 pounds, and Stephens can both catch the ball, but will also help as huge blocking tight ends as the line progresses. One of the players with promise up front is junior Bryant Hill, a 6-2, 285-pound two-way tackle.
Any Fox Lane QB needs a few targets. Hallock’s top options as of now are seniors John Horner and Phil Kenney. They are two of the seniors hoping to slid into more important roles. Another is Fredy Ramirez, a LB who Broggy said used dog the starters last season as a scout-team defender.
“I’m really impressed with him,” Broggy said.
The linebacking corps and safeties seemed to be a strength. Broggy believes the Grasso twins are difference makers and Trawick, a LB, is one of the strongest players on the team.
Broggy showed faith in his younger players. They will be forced to mature against Class AA opponents, some of which Fox Lane knows (Ossining, Yorktown) and some it doesn’t (Carmel, Mount Vernon, Scarsdale, etc.).
Because his team relies so much on the pass, I asked Broggy about Hallock, who earned very few reps last year: “He’s ready to play. I’m not even concerned about it.”