What is a "big hit"? You know. That hit that makes even you cringe to see it, the crowd gasping as "ooohs" and "aahs" sprinkle the crowd in attendance. The kind of hit that might even make you turn away right before you know it's coming. That's not just a dream for any defensive player, to get one or more in a game, but for the Lincoln Trojans, it's actually a stat they keep.
You can imagine why.
"It just means you are staying aggressive." Joe said of the "big hit" statistic. "You go out there and try and get the crowd to go 'oooh' when you hit someone. You know you are playing hard when you are able to get more than one of those in a game."
Joe actually got two 'big hits' in this last contest, the first round of the playoffs as they squared off against the Purple Hurricanes, soundly beating them 35-0. But, Joe also got something else he was a little reluctant to talk about, but had to laugh about nonetheless. "I got a personal foul in the game." he said.
Personal fouls are not good any way you look at them. They cost your team and at times, can be crucial in the damage they do. There are times though when defensive players especially, well, they aren't trying to be intentionally aggressive........well, ok, yeah actually sometimes they are. "This guy was just talking a whole bunch of junk the entire game." Joe said. "So, I just gave him a little head-butt to let him know that I was going to be around all day long."
"I know it wasn't right, but I'm a pretty aggressive player and I want to make sure they know I am there."
In addition to the 2 big hits and the personal foul, Joe said he recorded 2 pass break-ups and 7 tackles overall. It helped propel his defense to the shutout and now, they look onto the next game and despite the murderous schedule they have faced this year, this team could be the best team the have faced. "We face Choctaw this weekend." Joe said. "They've got a great offense and they have that receiver, D.J. Hall."
With the schedule that Lincoln has had this year, Choctaw will no doubt be a stern test, but nothing so different than they have faced this year already.
On the recruiting side, typical as to what the entire group of Tallahassee boys have maintained, Joe still isn't thinking too hard about any of it right now. He still named Nebraska as his leader, but at this point, says that anything is possible and he will know more after his official visits, the first being to Nebraska right after the state finals, the first weekend of December.
Manning is one of at least 4 division 1-A prospects from Lincoln High School this year.
Steve Ryan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-730-5619