Some kids go to the beach in their spare time. Others go to the movies or the mall.
Dion Futch? Well, he rarely has any spare time. But when he does, he's more likely to drive to Hampton High School and go out back to the practice field. Then he'll do some running drills on his own.
"I never have a day when I do nothing," said Futch, the Crabbers' top playmaker. "Whatever I can do to put myself ahead of everybody else."
When you're 5-foot-7 and 155 pounds — smaller than both of Hampton's place-kickers — that's what you have to do. And Futch, who has scored 14 touchdowns five different ways this season, always has taken the approach that nobody will outwork him.
He needs all the endurance he can get. Not only does he start at wide receiver and safety, he returns punts and kickoffs. Not only does he do all that on Friday nights, he plays hockey on the weekends for the Peninsula Prowl.
So if you're wondering where he gets his toughness from, that's part of it.
"I think hockey has made him a lot tougher," Hampton coach Mike Smith said. "He's got an aggressive nature and he's always been a hard worker. And he's an intelligent player."
He's also a dangerous player. Going into tonight's Eastern Region Division 5 semifinal at Lake Taylor, Futch has scored touchdowns the following ways: receiving (six), punt return (three), kickoff return (two), rushing (two) and interception return (one).
Before his team's game against the Crabbers on Oct. 23, Phoebus coach Stan Sexton praised Futch's ability and said, "I've always wondered why anyone would kick to him." Sexton didn't, instructing his punter to angle the ball toward the sideline and his kicker to squib.
Ever since, opponents have pretty much followed suit. It's like pitching around Albert Pujols with first base open.
"Well, he's had awfully good fortune when he gets the ball in his hands," Smith said.
"He hasn't been able to get it in his hands as much the last couple of games."
Which isn't to say he's been a nonfactor. Futch caught only two passes in Hampton's last two games, but both were for touchdowns. He's also rushed for 81 yards on 10 carries in the Crabbers' version of the Wildcat — the "Crabcake."
"If I get the ball in the open field, I feel like I can make enough moves and get the right blocks from my teammates," he said. "And get the ball in the end zone."
Futch is so well-respected that he made first-team All-Peninsula District at four positions — receiver, defensive back, punt returner and kick returner. That might not be a first, but it's certainly a rarity.
Yet because of his size, college recruiters appear to be apprehensive.
"They always want to know how tall I am and how much I weigh."
One team that has expressed interest is Liberty, which also has a hockey team that competes as a club sport. Futch says he also has heard from Delaware State, James Madison and North Carolina Central.
Whoever gets him, Smith believes, will be glad they did.
"He's a pretty good little player," he said. "He can do a lot when he gets the ball in his hands."
No. 6 HAMPTON (8-3)
at No. 2 LAKE TAYLOR (9-2)
WHAT: Eastern Region
Division 5 semifinal.
WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Lake Taylor High, Norfolk.
THE BUZZ: The Crabbers have been playing their best ball of late, having outscored their last three opponents 97-3. Their defense hasn't allowed a touchdown in 14 quarters. The Titans' ground game is anchored by Derrion Walton (123 ypg, 17 TDs). Offensively, Crabbers QB David Watford (116 rushing yards, two TDs last week) has been tough lately. But LT's defense has allowed 81 yards rushing — not per game, but all season.
THE PICK: Hampton 21,
Lake Taylor 20.
— Dave Johnson
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