Photo by Sheila Sutton

Doddridge County’s Hunter America is a standout on the unbeaten Bulldogs.

 

WEST UNION, W.Va. — No team in Class A has scored more than Doddridge County through seven weeks of regular season play.

The Bulldogs’ 316 points are even more impressive when considering they’ve come over six games.

While a total team effort is a big component to the 52.7 points per contest, tailback Hunter America has been as much a part of the success as anybody.

America has rushed for 1,459 yards on 114 carries with an astounding 26 touchdowns. The 12.8 yards per tote has him less than 200 yards away from the school’s single season rushing record with four regular season games remaining and likely postseason play to follow.

“He’s grown a little bit in his ability to change directions at full speed,” Doddridge coach Bobby Burnside said. “He has good vision, good balance and he’s benefitting from a very veteran line.

“A lot is the increase in speed and size and ability to break tackles this year. People tackled him last year, now he’s breaking many more tackles. He’s got a little more power this year.”

America echoed his coach’s words while admitting he feels like a different player in his junior season.

“I’ve noticed it’s harder to tackle me than it was last year,” America said. “I’m better balanced and just overall feel stronger. I feel more speedy and my juke moves are better. I just feel overall a better football player than I was last year.”

The Bulldogs (6-0) are No. 4 in the latest WVSSAC playoff ratings and have scored at least 41 points in all six games. Doddridge’s only win by fewer than 20 points came when it outscored Tyler Consolidated in Week 2, 62-43.

All America did in that game was rush 32 times for 460 yards and seven TDs.

It was also one of only two games America has played into the fourth quarter in — the other being a 31 carry, 373-yard effort with five TDs against rival Ritchie County.

“He’s getting heavy loads in big games and resting in the games when we can,” Burnside said. “Staying healthy for the end of the season is more important than trying to run up stats.”

America’s tasks in the backfield are made much easier by running behind an experienced and formidable offensive line.

In center Michael Childers, right guard Cole James and right tackle Max Cook, the Bulldogs have a trio of multi-year starters with extensive varsity experience, while left guard Sam Donaldson and left tackle Devin Farley have proven to be more than capable.

“I grew up with these boys since I was little and it’s been great running behind them,” America said. “They’ve blocked well this year and we’re going to keep on going and see how far we can get.”

America is also a rotational defensive player where he’s utilized at outside linebacker.

The Bulldogs will need him to be at his best down the stretch as the challenges could get tougher, with a Week 10 matchup against Williamstown (6-1) shaping up as one of the better regular season games in all of Class A.

“I’d just like to see us continue to improve. Defensively, we started the year with a lot of inexperience and having to replace seven people,” Burnside said. “They’ve gotten better as the season has progressed, but we know there are going to be serious challenges ahead.

“Hopefully by the end of the season, we’re healthy and a little bit tested, which I think we have some games that’ll do that.”

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