1-OF-A-KINDPublished 12:01am Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Huntingdon College’s philosophy all year long on the gridiron was to line up on offense and let its opponent’s defense choose how the Hawks were going to play the down.
Former Straughn stand out and Hawks senior quarterback Ryne Taylor took that philosophy to heart, ending his career fourth in the college’s history in passing yards (1,857) and touchdown passes (17). Taylor notched himself in the history books on Saturday, where he went 10-of-17 for 100 yards and two touchdowns to help lead the Hawks to a 45-38 victory over Maryville, Tenn. at home.
Taylor, who traded position time with Taylor Hughes (1,590 yards and 15 touchdowns), and the rest of the Hawks’ offense finished No. 1 in Division III, the son of (SHS head football coach) Trent and (Andalusia Elementary School Principal) Patty Taylor said. Additionally, Huntingdon didn’t have a single Player of the Week in its conference this season.
“I say that to prove a point. We didn’t have one particular guy that teams had to stop,” he said. “Our philosophy all year was we were going to line up, let the defense line up and basically let them choose how we’re going to beat them.”
The big key to his and Huntingdon’s success this year was how balanced the team was on offense, Taylor added.
“There were games where we rushed for 300-400 yards and there were games where we would throw for 3-400 yards,” he said. “The biggest thing is that the balance of our offense allowed us to have a lot of play makers, where nobody just catches your eye.”
The Huntingdon offense averaged 585.5 yards — 241.1 rushing and 344.7 passing — per game this season, while allowing 426.9 yards per game on defense.
At the beginning of the season, Taylor had no starts for the Hawks defense as he waited his sophomore and junior years for the opportunity to help lead the offense.
When asked if thought he’d have such a good season, Taylor laughed and said with all of the odds the team was facing, there wasn’t going to be a chance.
“I was coming in with zero career starts, and we had just lost our All-American running back,” he said. “We were returning one top receiver out of our six guys who played last year, and we had lost two offenseive linemen.
“Obviously, you want to be hopeful and everything, but I wouldn’t have told you that I thought we would’ve been as good as we were on offense.”
Leading the offense was exactly what Taylor did well, Huntingdon coach Mike Turk said.
“Obviously, his numbers are very good, but even more than that was his stability,” Turk said. “The players voted him as a team captain before the season started. This was for a guy who never started a game for us. That’s all you need to know about his character.”
Turk, who has known Ryne’s father for a long time, said he watched his senior quarterback from a young age all the way through to his senior year at SHS.
“When he became a senior, there was no doubt that through my relationship with is father, and knowing what I knew about him, that I wanted to coach Ryne,” he said. “So, we obviously recruited him when he was coming out of high school, and I guess he ended up walking on at Sanford.
“That didn’t work out for him I don’t geuess, so he decided to transfer to Huntingdon, which I was excited about, obviously,” he said. “He’s a great kid and a high-character type guy. A guy that you know is going to do the right things for the right reasons. That’s the kind of guy that you want to have as your quarterback.”
Taylor fit right into the Hawks’ play-action zone read, quick sprint out type offense, where most of the throws came vertically.
“Again, the big thing was balance,” he said. “It wasn’t like we dropped back all the time. It was a good mixture.”
Taylor will graduate from Huntingdon in December. He said he’s going to be using this week and all of next week to decide what he’s going to do next.
Taylor’s options include playing football overseas, taking a job with Campus Outreach — a college ministry — in South Carolina, staying at Huntingdon to work with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes as a resident director and going to graduate school as an assistant on the team.
But first, Taylor said he’s going to be here Friday night to root for Straughn as the Tigers take on Bayside Academy in the quarterfinals of the Class 3A state playoffs.
“I’m looking foward to get to watching a playoff game,” he said. “A playoff game at Straughn is second to none.”