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Cole Hunt brings the pressure for Ricebirds

By MIKE FORMAN
Dec. 10, 2012 at 6:10 a.m.

Ricebird defensive end  Cole Hunt fights off a block during a playoff game against Ingleside.

Class 3A, Division I State Final

• Stephenville (12-1) vs. El Campo (14-0)

• 7:30 p.m., Friday, Cowboys Stadium, Arlington

• Ticket information: ticketmaster.com/event/0C00493AA81273B3

EL CAMPO - Cole Hunt doesn't mind being double teamed. He views it as a compliment.

Opponents have come up with different strategies to protect their quarterback from Hunt since he had three sacks and wreaked havoc from his defensive end position in El Campo's Class 3A, Division I bi-district win over La Grange.

But even though the task has been more difficult, Hunt remains as relentless in his pursuit.

"Ever since the La Grange game, they've been double teaming me the whole time," he said. "Whether it's putting a receiver in motion and picking me up or the running back stepping out to block me. They've been double teaming me and I expect that. I like the competition and you've got to beat the best to be the best."

Hunt made a commitment to become the best player he could be after his junior season.

He recognized El Campo had an opportunity to have a memorable season after dropping from Class 4A and he wanted to follow in the footsteps of his older brother Joey, who received a scholarship to TCU last season.

"I knew we had a good chance to go pretty far in the playoffs and I wanted to be a leader," Hunt said. "I knew if I set examples for the younger kids in the weight room and I worked hard and it just paid off big time.

"Joey's always been more mature in the weight room and better than me and he worked real hard and got a scholarship to TCU," he added. "I was like I really want a scholarship for football. I got a scholarship and we're playing for a state title and I couldn't ask for anything more."

Hunt has committed to Rice and his performance has helped El Campo reach the state final for the first time since 1967.

The Ricebirds (14-0) will go after their first state championship when they play Stephenville (12-1) on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.

Hunt has 92 tackles and a team-leading 16 sacks during his senior season.

He also starts at tight end where he's proven to be a valuable blocker while making 13 catches for 304 yards and three touchdowns.

"He doesn't come off the field," said El Campo head coach Bob Gillis. "He didn't come off the field against Carthage (a 29-25 semifinal win) and he was tired. Even when we threw that little pass and they hit him low. He just got back up and went back in."

The 6-foot-6, 225-pound Hunt attributes his stamina and ability to shed blockers to the time he spent in the weight room and the work he's done of his technique.

"This year I worked on my moves a lot pass rush wise," Hunt said. "I worked with my hands a whole lot. I move my hands constantly to get the linemen off of me. The weight room has helped me a lot because I gained 30 pounds."

Hunt has also paid more attention to detail this season, which helps him to better utilize his physical skills.

"He does a great job of reading the offensive line and getting good reads off them and he uses that to his advantage," said El Campo defensive coordinator Wayne Condra. "He uses his speed and quickness as far as getting a good pass rush for us."

Hunt's quickness will be paramount against Stephenville quarterback Tyler Jones, who is protected by a big offensive line.

"They have a really good quarterback," Hunt said. "He's quick, he's accurate and their left tackle is about 6-4, 315, so it will be the biggest tackle I've faced all year. I'll just have to use my speed against him and quickness."

Hunt is excited about having the chance to play in Cowboys Stadium and getting the opportunity to do something no El Campo team has ever done.

"I was talking to Joey (Hunt) on Saturday," Cole Hunt said. "He was saying congratulations and stuff like that. He still says his team was better than ours. I said our team will live on forever as long as El Campo is around."

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