SCHENECTADY — A couple months later, the play still makes his teammates smile and his coaches laugh. Around Holy Trinity football, a simple reference to “that pitch play” brings up the same memory for each member of the Pride.
“Oh,” Holy Trinity assistant head coach Will Headen said, “you mean the one he picked off?”
Yeah. That one.
“That,” Holy Trinity senior Cam Kiser said, “was amazing.”
In a campaign filled with standout plays from Holy Trinity sophomore Nacier Hundley, that pitch play leads the pack. Hundley’s made a number of big hits and critical tackles, scored one touchdown after another, and has left his teammates in awe on a weekly basis this season . . . but a play from a Week 4 blowout against Corinth still stands above the rest. It remains the one that best demonstrates the football IQ and athletic ability combined in Hundley, the mix that made Headen — who runs Holy Trinity’s defense — have this reaction when Hundley first joined the Pride’s football program last year.
“The biggest thing for us,” Headen said, “was just not to mess him up.”
That pitch play took place two months ago, as part of an are-you-kidding-me segment of Holy Trinity’s 63-0 victory in which Hundley scored five consecutive touchdowns. The fourth touchdown — the one that came in between Hundley returning two punts for scores — saw Hundley blitz from his linebacker spot, read Corinth was looking to deliver the ball to a running back and intercept that pitch on his way to a 67-yard touchdown.
“I’ve never seen that before,” Holy Trinity senior Dion Sexton said.
It surprised Hundley, too. The 5-foot-7, 165-pound Schenectady resident who attends Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons was looking for a sack, not a touchdown.
“But the ball was just right there,” Hundley said, “so I just took it and ran.”
Hundley has led Holy Trinity on its remarkable run this season, which concludes Friday in the Class C state championship game against Section III’s Skaneateles. The sophomore linebacker/wide receiver has scored 22 touchdowns this season — 14 on offense, eight on defense or special teams — for the 11-1 Pride, a young program which had never won a postseason game before this year.
That first postseason win came against Voorheesville, a 42-0 victory in which Hundley starred in typical — well, for him — fashion. Hundley started that game’s scoring with a touchdown on a 40-plus yard fumble recovery, then sent Holy Trinity into halftime with a 29-0 lead after a 56-yard touchdown reception.
That second touchdown is one of those plays that make his teammates gush. Sophomore quarterback Joe Tortello threw that pass to Hundley, a play intended to prolong a Pride drive long enough so they wouldn’t have to punt right before halftime.
“But I throw a five-yard out to him and he’s down the sideline,” Tortello said. “Think he breaks two tackles and then runs across the field.”
Just another play for Hundley.
“He’s a freak,” Kiser said.
Away from the field, Hundley’s teammates say his antics regularly draw laughter when the Pride are getting ready for games or practices in their field house. But he’s all business when he’s on the field or in the classroom, where ND-BG athletic director Pat Moran said he’s just as revered.
“He’s a phenomenal kid,” Moran said. “Very respectful. You don’t even know he’s in the building.”
But opposing coaches always try to know where Hundley is on the field, especially when the Pride are on defense.
He’s easy to find.
With few exceptions, Holy Trinity stations Hundley — the Section II Class C Most Valuable Defensive Player — on the wide side of the field, so he’s responsible for more ground.
“And he takes a whole side of the field away,” Holy Trinity head coach John Barber said.
Stillwater head coach Ian Godfrey said it’s a tactic that works. Godfrey’s Warriors lost 49-6 to Holy Trinity in the regular season, then fell 34-12 in the Section II Class C Super Bowl. That second time around, Godfrey based his team’s offensive plan on attacking wherever Hundley was not.
“He’s just a complete game-breaker. It’s tough to run anything to his side,” Godfrey said. “He’s such a talent that we knew we had to change how we attacked the game because he’s such a turnover machine.”
“And since Pop Warner,” Kiser said, “he’s been like that.”
Hundley started playing organized football at 5 years old. He also plays basketball and plans to run track next spring, but football is Hundley’s passion. The opportunity to take on Skaneateles in Syracuse’s Carrier Dome is one he can’t wait to accept — especially when it comes to defending Skaneateles and its record-breaking junior quarterback Patrick Hackler, who has thrown for a state-record 50 touchdowns this season.
“No team’s thrown the ball on us at all this year,” Hundley said. “If we make him throw the ball, we’re going to go get it.”
Like on that pitch play, the one Hundley went and got, the top play in his highlight-reel of a season that Hundley can only see ending one way for the Pride.
“Winning Friday,” Hundley said. “That’s been the goal. That’s the biggest goal.”
Reach Gazette Sportswriter Michael Kelly at [email protected] or @ByMichaelKelly on Twitter.
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Categories: High School Sports, Sports