It’s life after Deion Hoskins and Jerome Toby for the Lummi Blackhawks’ football team.
Hoskins, a 300-plus pound force of a running back, accounted for 719 yards and 19 total touchdowns last season, while Toby electrified through the air with 31 TD passes against just four interceptions.
The Blackhawks were far from a two-man show, though, going 10-2 and making it to the Class 1B state semifinals before losing to Neah Bay for a second consecutive season.
With that said, their graduation leaves coach Jim Sandusky searching for players to step up and fill their lofty roles.
That’s not to say he’s worried, though.
“Who I’m looking for to take over that burden is the eight guys that are on the field,” Sandusky said. “It’s not one guy. We all have to step up. ... I played on teams, professional teams, that have lost great players, all-league-type players, and the team needs to step up, and a lot of times in those situations it became a better team.”
A winning pedigree has been synonymous with Lummi football while under Sandusky. Since 2006, the Blackhawks have averaged double-digit victories and made appearances in six state semifinals, three championship games and eight quarterfinals.
But unlike years past, Sandusky admitted to not having a sure grasp on his roster — that the first three to four games will determine his rotation, something he said has yet to be solidified through preseason camp.
What he can rely on are returning two-way starters Dino Williams, Hank Hoskins and Devin Cooper.
Williams, with a smile and a laugh, said he’s gladly taking on the challenge of emerging from Deion’s shadow.
“Everybody sees Deion as everything. But we had (seven) other guys that played just as good,” Williams said. “I want to just get the ball and score — be a force and make something happen.”
The skilled senior wasn’t necessarily a forgotten man last year, leading the team with 923 yards receiving and 13 scores on 51 catches, all team highs. At 18.1 yards per reception, his explosiveness is something first-year quarterback Hank Hoskins will look to exploit.
Hank Hoskins’ development at QB was a focus during camp, Sandusky said, given he transitioned to the offensive line last season to fill a much-needed hole.
His transition back to being the main signal-caller will, at very least, be softened by the talented core of running backs Lummi will employ. Leading that group will be Cooper, whose speed and physical nature make him equally as imposing at linebacker on the other side.
“We’ve got the bodies — we’ve got the numbers. These guys are going to battle,” Sandusky said, “(being) less reliant on one person because it’s a team game.”
Cooper returns as the Blackhawks’ leading rusher, accumulating 541 yards and 11 TDs on 56 carries last season, while adding 151 yards and three receiving touchdowns. He’ll be featured in the offense prominently this season, pairing with Williams to become another potent 1-2 option for Sandusky’s offense.
Emerging through camp were twin brothers Raven and Free Borsey. The sophomores have made convincing arguments, warranting serious consideration for time on the first team offense and defense.
“They’ve opened some eyes,” Sandusky said. “I don’t know how I’m going to be able to keep them off the field. It’s one of those situations ... that some new, young guys looked really good.”