Hoskins' versatility, experience invaluable for Lummi

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDNovember 28, 2013 

ANDY BRONSON — The Bellingham Herald

Lummi's do-everything player Deion Hoskins is the type no coach wants to scheme for, and even though he really is a senior, his extensive varsity career has left opposing coaches wishing he'd be out of the Blackhawks' program since he starting playing in the eighth grade.

"It's been kind of exciting, because the last probably three years I would say there have been coaches that have asked me, 'Isn't he a senior yet?'" Lummi coach Jim Sandusky said in a phone interview. "He was big as an eighth grader. Even when he was playing in JV games, they would say, 'I know you got a senior playing JV.'"

It's hard to go unnoticed when a player has the blend of size and athleticism Hoskins has.

Tipping the scales at nearly 300 pounds, Hoskins runs the ball, catches passes, blocks as an offensive lineman, lines up at defensive end, plays linebacker and, oh yeah, kicks the ball, too.

And he's proficient in all facets.

His feet are nimble enough to lead Lummi with 724 rushing yards and 16 TDs, he ranks fourth among team leaders in pass receptions and Sandusky said "he can catch the ball as well as any of our wide receivers," and Hoskins has even recorded a touchdown toss on his only pass attempt this season.

He'll look to use his myriad skills to help No. 4-ranked Lummi earn a win against No. 1-ranked Neah Bay when the Blackhawks play the Red Devils during the Class 1B State Playoff semifinals at 4:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 29, at the Tacoma Dome.

Hoskins credits his array of talents to his early football start and continuous play with his brothers growing up.

"I started playing football when I was 6 years old," he said in a phone interview. "I started playing with my older two brothers, and when I was younger I always played as a lineman. I was always a lineman until I came to high school. Then I started running the ball more."

It turns out Sandusky was wise to utilize Hoskins as more than a lineman. He's compiled 2,576 rushing yards and 50 touchdowns on the ground since he started playing varsity five years ago.

The stats are impressive, but the numbers don't begin to tell his value to Lummi's program.

"There's really not one thing," said Sandusky when asked what most stands out about Hoskins. "All around he is a great leader and the kids respect him. He has the respect of not only (his) teammates, but the opposing players. Anytime we are at a restaurant, I'll always hear 'Deion is such a great guy.' He is just a good kid and works hard and has a lot of fun playing the game."

Given his potency with the ball in his hands, he's displayed a truly unselfish attitude and willingness to do whatever is asked of him when Sandusky prompts him to put his hand in grass and block.

Hoskins does it, without any rebuttal, even though blocking isn't his favorite.

"I don't have a problem with it," he said. "If I end up helping on our offensive line, it's fun. It's easy. You just have to figure out who to block."

And figuring out blocking assignments, and really any scheme within the Blackhawks' offense or defense for that matter, comes second nature to Hoskins.

His vast experience has even led to Sandusky inquiring from Hoskins what plays he'd suggest. His input may be especially important against longtime-rival Neah Bay - a team Hoskins has had some of his best and worst moments against.

Lummi and Hoskins have a 5-6 record against the Red Devils the past five seasons but have lost four straight. Lummi's season ended with a 40-30 loss to Neah Bay during last year's semifinals and the Blackhawks again concluded their year in 2011 with a 58-40 loss to Neah Bay in the state quarterfinals. Lummi beat the Red Devils 61-14 in the 2010 semifinals before winning a state title and ended Neah Bay's season in 2009 with a 64-36 win in the state semis.

"I've learned a lot the last five years," Hoskins said. "For Neah Bay, I know what plays they like to run and what they like on long distance and in short distance. (Players) see me as a leader but more of somebody that they can go to to ask what's going on."

Hoskins is certainly hoping his tremendous Lummi career ends with Neah Bay as an obstacle en route to a state title rather than the barrier that ends his season.

Reach Andrew Lang at andrew.lang@bellinghamherald.com or call 360-756-2862. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for Whatcom County sports updates.

NEAH BAY VS. LUMMI

Time: 4:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 29

Site: Tacoma Dome

Red Devils update: No. 1-ranked Neah Bay (11-0) beat Cusick 80-28 during the quarterfinals of the Class 1B State Playoffs last week. The 80 points was the second highest scoring output the Red Devils have had this season. Neah Bay, which has ousted Lummi from the state playoffs each of the past two seasons, beat the Blackhawks 76-32 at home earlier this year.

Blackhawks update: No. 4-ranked Lummi (10-2) beat Wishkah Valley 57-22 during the quarterfinal round of the Class 1B State Playoffs last week at Stewart Field in Aberdeen. Devin Cooper helped the Blackhawks build a 28-14 halftime lead before pulling away in the second half. Cooper ran for 206 yards, scored twice on the ground, including a 95-yard TD run, and returned an interception 97 yards for a score. Kavarez Lane added rushing TDs of 4, 14, and 8 yards and caught a 17-yard touchdown pass from Logan Toby. The Blackhawks' defense gave up 421 yards - 306 of which were rushing.

Player to watch: Devin Cooper had a big game against Wishkah Valley, rushing for 206 yards and two touchdowns. He and Deion Hoskins give the Blackhawks a solid one-two punch of quickness and physicality. Lummi can utilize Cooper's legs to control the ground game and run clock against a potent Neah Bay offense.

Key to the game: Lummi has lost four straight to Neah Bay since 2011. The Blackhawks had several injured players the first time the two teams met this year, but if Lummi can hang with the Red Devils early at a neutral site, it is more than capable of upsetting its biggest 1B rival. Lummi can certainly draw off Deion Hoskins' vast experience against the Red Devils.

Key to the game: Dino Williams has been one of quarterback Logan Toby's top targets. The Blackhawks' passing attack struggled during Lummi's last matchup with Neah Bay, recording only one touchdown. Williams is a player who can get the Blackhawks going in the air and will need to have a big game against Neah Bay.

Key to the game: The Blackhawks' offense can score with any 1B team in the state, but coach Jim Sandusky said Lummi can't win if they turn the ball over. Quarterback Logan Toby and backup Austin Brockie will need to take extra good care of the football against the Red Devils.

Herald's pick: Neah Bay 58-36

Reach ANDREW LANG at andrew.lang@bellinghamherald.com or call ext. 862.

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