"Who the heck is that?" Roosevelt High coach Anthony Fiorelli demanded. "Who is that running the ball?"
The answer came from one of the assistants standing motionless in the backfield, his jaw scraping the grass.
"That's Doug Hogue, coach. He goes to Mark Twain Elementary School. And he's coming here next year."
The first play from scrimmage Doug Hogue ever made with the varsity was a run anybody who witnessed it can still recount juke move for juke move.
Fiorelli certainly knew what he was watching. He'd coached three Division I players before. And even as a scrawny 14-year-old, he knew Hogue was destined to be the fourth.
"You just knew it right there," Fiorelli said. "Even at that age, you knew he was going to play major college football."
It's a story Fiorelli loves to retell at every opportunity — not because he can boast some sort of eye for talent, but because its the first chapter of an urban fairy tale.
A kid grown out of the roughest part of town in the troubled city of Yonkers, Hogue had talent to make it out. That initial burst out of the backfield was the first step. And he's still running.
Hogue, now a lean 6-foot-4, 210-pounder, gave an oral commitment to Syracuse last week after a whirlwind six-month recruiting expedition that included trips across the major Division I map.
"Syracuse University was always his No. 1," Roosevelt senior quarterback Zachary Thompson said. "We visited Syracuse together. You could tell it was where he wanted to go."
What Hogue has overcome to get to this point is nothing short of remarkable.
His high school doesn't have much of a weight room and he plays home games on a field where rocks nearly outnumber blades of grass.
Last season the team started with 30 players, dwindled to 23 after summer practices and flirted with not meeting the state-required 18 by midseason.
The returning quarterback transferred to a rival school weeks before the season, and Hogue's best lineman was lost for the year because of an injury —he was shot in the face in an atercation and didn't get cleared to play because the bullet was still lodged in his vertebrae.
Over the winter, one of Hogue's closest friends was murdered in another shooting.
Roosevelt went 3-6 behind Hogue's 1,463 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns, and that's despite being the target of every defensive game plan conceivable.
Yet Hogue doesn't carry any sort of grudge, nor does he posess the slightest shred of an ego.
"I've got to do what's best for my team," Hogue said. "Whether they want me to run the ball 20 times or block of whatever, I'll do whatever it takes to win."
Those close to him insist he's serious when says he'd be content in any role. He's never once complained about his lack of support — whether it's running behind sub-200 pound linemen or facing a practice squad of eight players.
In the summer, he seriously considered prolonging his recruitment into the season because he thought having scouts come to games would give his teammates an opportunity to be seen, as well.
"I've never met a gifted athlete that was so unselfish," Fiorelli said. "He's a classy kid who'll do whatever it takes to win."