Season Wrapup: Hunter Furr

Heading into their contests against Winston-Salem (N.C.) Mount Tabor this fall, opponents had a simple but hard-to-execute game plan – stop Hunter Furr.

Furr averaged over 152 yards a game in Mount Tabor's 11 wins and scored a total of 25 touchdowns. In Mount Tabor's two loses, opponents held the 6-foot-1, 201-pound tailback to a combined 125 yards and no touchdowns.

"Last year, we had [Ed Gainey], who is starting for Appalachian State as a freshman this year, and another kid that went to Livingston on scholarship, Lamar Wilson, in the backfield," Mount Tabor assistant coach Ray Rhodes said. "And that helped stretch the field horizontally and vertically. I think that opened up things a little more for Hunter last year.

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"This year, we had some very good kids, but they weren't at [Gainey's and Wilson's] level. So everybody knew that Hunter was the guy they had to stop."

Despite missing his backfield mates, containing Furr was no easy task.

"We were mainly a zone team this year, if he got to the second level, he was a tough guy to bring down," Rhodes said. "Defensive backs don't like to tackle somebody that big. Lots of times he might be as fast as or even faster than some of them."

On the season, Furr rushed for 1,802 yards and 25 touchdowns on 285 carries.

"With almost everybody geared to stop him, I think that speaks a lot for what a great season he had this season as well," Rhodes said.

Heading into the season, the plan was to give Furr at least a part-time role on defense, at safety, in addition to his offensive duties. However, after a couple of games, it was decided to utilize Furr solely as the feature ‘back.

"We ended up with some guys that stepped up and our defense came through pretty well," Rhodes said. "All we had to do was let him run the ball, which was a pretty big role anyway."

After posting a 10-1 regular season record, Mount Tabor headed into the NCHSAA 4A state playoffs as the No. 1 seed. However, the Spartans drew a tough bracket.

After dropping Gastonia (N.C.) Ashbrook, Mount Tabor hosted Fayetteville (N.C.) Seventy-First, which is playing for the 4A Title this weekend and whose two loses are to the two teams playing for the 4AA Title this weekend.

"We felt like us and Seventy-First were the two best teams in our bracket," Furr said. "The winner of our game would end up in Chapel Hill [to play for the 4A Championship]."

Seventy-First defeated Mount Tabor, 14-0. Furr had a run of ten yards but was otherwise contained for 42 yards on 23 carries.

"Seventy-First had a very strong defense," Rhodes said. "They didn't have any weakness. They were a very good tackling team."

Last Tuesday evening, Furr hosted Butch Davis for an in-home visit.

"It went awesome," Furr said. "He came over, we had dinner and then we sat in the formal living room. We just discussed the future of the program, his career, his future, the outlook for me and how's he's going to use me through the program, and the current players and playing situations for the bowl game."

Davis informed Furr, who has often been classified an athlete, that the plan is to utilize him as a tailback.

"He definitely said that he feels like the offense that Coach Shoop is going to draw up will definitely fit to what I bring to the table," Furr said. "He said he sees me getting seven yards deep and pounding the football [and] wearing the defense down. Also, he said they're going to line me up in the slot and motioning me out of the backfield to create mismatches on linebackers and strong safeties."

Rhodes agrees that Furr would be best suited as a tailback.

"He's got a great power index, he runs very well, [and] he's a strong kid," Rhodes said. "…He's strong enough to run between the tackles, but he also has pretty good speed to go outside… He can take it the distance. He had quite a few explosive plays for us."

Mount Tabor employs a multiple-formation offense that might not have been best suited for Furr's skill set.

"That's the one thing I'm really looking for: playing the pro-style offense at Carolina," Furr said. "I never would have one play with a tight end or a lead blocker. I'm looking forward to getting behind guys that can off-set me.

"I felt like last year in the state championship and against Seventy-First this year in about five plays I was one block away from taking it to the house. I feel like a lead blocker would be a tremendous advantage to me."

This coming weekend Furr will head to Spartanburg, S.C. to represent North Carolina in the Shrine Bowl.

After returning from the Shrine Bowl, Furr will join Mount Tabor's winter track team. He plans to run the 55-meter dash, and is considering running the 300-meter.

During the spring, Furr will run the 100- and 200-meter dash for Mount Tabor's spring track team.

"I'm going to try to defend my national title," Furr said of the 100-meter state mark he set last year.

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