Unlike a potter using clay to create a masterpiece, Grant Janeway uses clay to tear down the best laid plans of an offense.
Clay Matthews, that is.
Janeway, Science Hill’s senior linebacker, tries to follow in the footsteps of Green Bay’s All-Pro superstar. Janeway even has the long-haired look, and the aggressive approach to match.
“I pattern my game after him,” said Janeway. “I really enjoy watching him. He is one of my favorite players. Who is better to model than that?
“He’s faster than most linebackers, and has better mechanics and techniques. Watching him play helps me get better.”
Just don’t ask Janeway to root for Matthews’ team.
“I can’t stand the Packers,” he said.
Janeway has been a force for the undefeated Hilltoppers (6-0) on both sides of the football this season. At linebacker he leads the defense with strength and intelligence.
“He’s a great player,” said Science Hill head coach Stacy Carter. “His work ethic is extremely good. He’s tremendous all around. And he makes all of our defensive calls.”
Janeway might actually compare more favorably to Peyton Manning, if the Denver Broncos’ star was a linebacker. That’s because Janeway is basically the quarterback of the defense.
“I know what to look for, and what everybody has to do,” said Janeway. “The more games I play, the more I catch on. I read the offense, and even call audibles for what I think will happen.
“We’ve made multiple adjustments on the field, and it has worked out a bunch of times for us.”
Said Carter, “He’s a smart kid. He has a great football IQ.”
And when the play starts, it’s time to pound somebody. Janeway leads the Hilltoppers with 38 total tackles, including 14 unassisted, three for loss, and two sacks. He has a fumble recovery, a pass broken up, and six quarterback hurries.
“I love playing linebacker,” said Janeway. “It’s aggressive, and you get to hit people all the time.”
Janeway also hits people on offense, making blocks from his tight end position. And he is a capable receiver, totaling four catches for 90 yards and two touchdowns on the season.
“Playing tight end is definitely as fun as playing defense,” said Janeway. “I love playing tight end with the offensive line crew. You won’t find a better group of guys.”
Football success comes naturally for Janeway. His brother, Greyson, plays at Centre College in Kentucky, and his dad, Hal, played at Austin Peay.
“My whole family; we are huge football people,” said Janeway. “My dad has been a tremendous help. He has probably had the biggest impact on my football life as anybody.
“He has helped me through everything. I’m very appreciative of him. He knows football, and it’s good to have him.”
For this week, however, Janeway will be trying to help the Hilltoppers beat his dad’s old high school. Hal played quarterback for Daniel Boone.
Janeway said that adds a little something to the mix for Friday’s game.
“It’s definitely interesting because that’s who he played for,” said Janeway. “It puts a new spin on things, but it’s still just another game.”
Another important football person for Janeway has been Carter.
“He has had a huge impact on the program,” said Janeway. “Coach Carter is a great leader. He’s close to all of us, and helps us through anything. I don’t think there’s a better coach than Coach Carter.”
When the football season ends, Janeway won’t turn his attention to another sport. He said he plans to keep working out, hopefully preparing for college football.
“I definitely want to play at the next level,” Janeway said.
In the mix so far are Western Carolina, Campbell College, Furman and Wofford.
“He definitely has a chance to play at the next level,” said Carter. “Some school just needs to be smart enough to make a good decision. He’s a good athlete with good speed, and he’s very physical. It’s just a matter of finding the right fit for him.”
For now, Janeway and his teammates are concentrating on Daniel Boone, hoping it will be Step No. 7 in a 10-week climb to get a shot at Dobyns-Bennett.
“We just want to go one week at a time, and build on that so we can be at peak performance for Week 10,” said Janeway.