Silencing the critics might not be Justin Snyder’s focus, but he sure has gotten pretty good at it.
Science Hill’s 5-foot-8, 165-pound senior has put up numbers that help display the size of his heart.
As the Hilltoppers travel to play Morristown West tonight at 7:30, Snyder has racked up 659 yards of total offense in three games and accounted for seven touchdowns. It’s his third year as a starter, but at times it seemed a lot of people thought there was someone better to have in the signal-caller role.
“My confidence has faded every now and then, but never completely,” said Snyder, who has thrown for 477 yards and completed 57 percent of his passes this season. “Coach (Stacy) Carter and I have a good relationship. He told me, ‘You’re the man,” and to stick with him and keep doing what I’ve been doing.” Snyder has good football bloodlines. His dad, Bill, was a wide receiver at East Tennessee State University back in the early 1980s. And Bill was Justin’s coach during his flag football years.
“I got tired of pulling flags, so I told my dad I wanted to put the pads on and hit someone,” said Snyder. “But I’ve always been a quarterback. My dad put me at that position because he knew I had the mind to have responsibility like that.”
Snyder’s toughness hasn’t been in question. With 182 yards rushing, Snyder doesn’t mind challenging the defense on the ground.
“I’ve always been a confident runner,” he said. “I’m not afraid to go between the tackles. I love it when Coach Carter calls my number.”
When he throws, Snyder said his success has improved thanks to Coach Jeremy Bosken.
“He’s always going to camps and coming back and telling me to do this and do that,” said Snyder. “He has really helped me with my footwork and my timing. If you get the ball out on time, your completion percentage skyrockets.”
Having speedy receivers like Aaron Greene helps a lot, said Snyder.
“It’s awesome to have a guy like that,” said Snyder. “It’s fun to watch him run his routes in practice. And having Alex Lundberg, that gives us two guys with speed.”
Snyder and company will have their hands full tonight as they take on an undefeated Trojans team, which owns a win over a Greeneville team that handed Science Hill its only loss.
“It will be a dogfight,” said Snyder. “But I think we can get them.”
Carter said the Hilltoppers will have to deal with West’s size.
“They are good up front and they are big,” he said. “They have a lot of weapons.”
West’s defense is good, too. The Trojans have allowed just 14.3 points and 197 total yards per game despite playing very good offensive teams in each of their three games.
West shut down a Cherokee team that throws a lot, and a Greeneville team that runs a lot. However, Science Hill does both.
“I think we’ve got to be balanced,” said Carter. “I hope we give them two different dimensions.”
Carter said his team will have to do a good job tackling West’s running backs.
“We will have to gang tackle,” said Carter. “We will have do better than we did against Greeneville, and hopefully we’ve learned since then.”