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Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017

'Never say quit' attitude earns Hounds awards

Thursday, December 18, 2008

He could have just been quiet and not said a word, preferring not to take on a brand-new position so late in the football season.

But that's not how things are done when you wear the yellow and black for Salem High School.

And that's certainly not how you play your way to All-Conference honors, either.

So, in the latter part of the 2008 football campaign, with the Greyhounds trying to fight their way through an unreal number of injuries to an already thin roster, Dylan Smith volunteered to play fullback.


Because that's just the way things are done when you strap it up for the Greyhounds.

You put the team before yourself.

"We were really looking for help (in the injury-depleted backfield). He stepped up and said, 'Coach, I can do it.' So we put him in there (at fullback) to see what he would look like, and sure enough, he stepped right in there and didn't miss a beat," said Salem Head Coach Sammy Weir. "He's a good kid who works hard."

Though they may not have been blessed with a lot of depth, that's one thing that Salem could count on this football season -- a roster full of good kids who worked hard.

And even though they may not have racked up many wins in the 2008 football season, Salem's toughness, hard work and desire to fight through adversity was rewarded with five selections to the 3-2A All-Conference football team.

Dylan Smith, Jason Huff and T.W. Langevin all earned a spot on the team, while Kyle Berry and Jordan King grabbed honorable mention status.

And the great news for Weir is, all but two of those players will be back next year.

"That is a great thing -- three of the five guys will be back next year to play again," he said. "Kyle and T.W. are seniors, but Dylan, Jason and Jordan will be back. We'll miss Kyle and T.W. They were great leaders and set a great example for the young kids."

Kyle Berry, who started his senior season as a wideout, ended up quarterbacking the Greyhounds for the majority of the season, using his quickness and shiftiness to keep opposing defenses guessing.

Berry rushed for 308 yards and threw for another 165. On defense, he racked up 43 tackles.

"It was really hard for defenders to get their hands on him," said Weir. "He did a good job for us, and of course was one of the leaders on this football team."

Classmate Langevin was also a force for the Hounds in 2008, playing at the point of attack on both sides of the football.

He led the Greyhounds with 118 tackles.

"He's a real winner. He had a real knack for being around the football," Weir said. "And like Kyle, he was a real leader, on and off the field, for us."

Smith, a junior linebacker and guard to start the year, had little trouble in taking on any responsibilities that Weir and the coaching staff tossed his way.

On defense, Smith recorded 87 tackles. On offense, he rushed for 83 yards.

"Dylan was a great two-way performer for us. He played linebacker and offensive guard. He also played on special teams and even played some fullback," Weir said. "He's just an all-around great athlete."

Another all-around cog for Salem this time around was King, who is also a junior.

"Jordan is an outstanding kid that we're going to rely on a lot next year," said Weir. "He's a running back and also played defensive end and defensive back. He also played fullback for us on occasion. He had 33 tackles this year. He's going to be a kid to watch next year."

Having a weapon in the kicking game is a luxury that most high school football teams don't have. However, the Hounds had one this year, in the form of Huff, a junior. And by the way, Huff could also play a little bit of defense.

"Jason will be a senior next year. He had 37 tackles for us this year," Weir said. "He was also our leading receiver with 23 receptions for 429 yards. He was also our kicker on kickoffs. He'll be our punter next year, also. Just an outstanding athlete. We relied a lot on his quickness and speed."

Regardless of the fact that they tasted victory just once in 2008, this edition of Salem Greyhounds never let their lack of success stop them from giving it all they had all year long.

"We could never, ever say anything about their desire and effort," Weir said. "We were just hoping that something good would happen and they would get in the win column, but they never held their heads down. They were disappointed, sure, but they just kept coming back and coming back. What a great attitude these kids have about wanting to win."

And according to Weir, that same focus on doing things the right way has carried over to the Greyhounds' off-season program.

"We're already working hard in the weight room. The kids are really excited about next year," said Weir. "It's just amazing how far they've come under those circumstances. And one of these days, it (success) will come. We're trying to get stronger and faster in the weight room and we've got some good players moving up from the junior high team."

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