Not over the Hill: Glenwood RB Henry Hill recovers from injuries to lead Demons
Delta at Glenwood Springs
What: Quarterfinal round of the Class 3A state playoffs.
Where: Stubler Memorial Field, Glenwood Springs, Colo.
When: 1 p.m. Saturday.
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Henry Hill’s medical bills in the past 18 months have probably been pretty high. It just doesn’t seem that way.
The Glenwood Springs High School senior running back has a plethora of injuries he has overcome, from a separated shoulder to a torn hamstring he suffered this past spring during track season. It’s spurred Hill to wear braces, bandages and even undergo a lot of therapy.
“Shock therapy, actually,” Hill said, smiling. “And there was some massage therapy, too.”
It’s obviously worked because the pain is gone, right?
“Oh yeah,” Hill said. “I don’t feel pain anymore.”
It’s definitely helped that Hill’s health has been at 100 percent for a majority of the season, and he’s one of the reasons why the Demons have had a resurgence since losing their first three games. Headed into this week, the 1,566 rushing yards Hill has tallied is more than any running back in Class 3A and is ranked 10th among running backs in all Colorado classifications.
So it’s pretty safe to say that the 12th-seeded Demons (8-3) will be pretty happy to have a healthy Hill when they host 13th-seeded Delta (8-3) in the Class 3A quarterfinals Saturday. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. at Stubler Memorial Field.
“He worked very hard on his own fitness level all through the summer,” Glenwood coach Rocky Whitworth said. “He got himself into very good condition coming into the season, and he takes care of himself. And we take care of him, too.”
A lot of Hill’s success has come from the improvement of the Demons’ offensive line, as its personnel at the beginning of the season didn’t fully understand the zone-blocking scheme Glenwood deploys up front. But thanks to a better understanding and effort by the blockers up front, the Demons have amassed 1,842 of their 2,132 rushing yards this season during the eight-game win streak that brought Glenwood to this point.
Hill, obviously, has been the biggest benefactor of that as Glenwood’s primary ball carrier. During the Demons’ 35-7 victory over then sixth-ranked Evergreen on Oct. 18, he finished with a season-high 279 rushing yards and three touchdowns. By the third quarter of that game, the senior had surpassed the 190 rushing yards the Demons had compiled as a team during its 0-3 start.
And Hill has managed to do this despite a set of potentially debilitating injuries that could have slowed him tremendously this season.
A day after he was on a 4×100-meter relay team that set a school-record time during preliminary heats of the Class 4A State Championships in Lakewood, Hill suffered a torn hamstring during the state final and collapsed onto the track. He spent the summer rehabbing the hamstring, which luckily for him was only a slight tear.
He was running at full speed at the beginning of the season, but he ran into another snag Sept. 13 in Glenwood’s 13-7 loss to Rifle at Stubler. He had to leave the game in the third quarter when he separated his right shoulder trying to make a tackle on defense, leaving Whitworth worried about his running back’s health immediately after the game.
That wasn’t a big worry, as it turned out. Hill was practicing again by the middle of the week leading up to the Demons’ 37-10 victory at Steamboat Springs on Sept. 20, where he broke loose for 163 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
“Steamboat was a lot better than we thought they would be,” Hill said. “The holes just started opening up. But … in the Rifle game, there was a drive that we had against them where things really started to click. I think that from then on, everything on offense has really been working.”
Hill’s right shoulder has been working fine, he said, though he does wear a padded shoulder sleeve under his pads just for precautionary measures. Everything else, from Glenwood’s offense to Hill’s hamstrings, have worked just they way they’ve needed to.
“Truthfully, I feel faster now than I ever have,” he said.
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In a fraction of a second I went from a full sprint to skidding across the ground — pea-sized gravel gashing my knees and elbows, turning them into strawberry crisp.