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Hubbard leads Knights' ground game into semis

The Tampa Tribune
Published:   |   Updated: July 12, 2013 at 01:14 AM
TAMPA -

Robinson senior running back J.J. Hubbard leads Class 2A with 27 rushing touchdowns this season.

Sometimes, the smallest player on the field can possess the biggest talent.

Just look at 5-foot-8, 175 pound Robinson senior running back J.J. Hubbard.

Hubbard enters Friday's Class 2A state semifinal against Belle Glade Central (10-1) with 1,450 yards and 27 touchdowns with an average of over 10 yards per carry. According to MaxPreps.com, Hubbard leads Class 2A with 27 rushing touchdowns this season and is the classification's second leading rusher.

In two postseason games, Hubbard has recorded seven touchdowns.

On Friday against Jesuit in the region championship, Hubbard finished with 177 yards and two touchdowns and one fumble. He could have surpassed 200 yards in the game if his 70-yard touchdown run in the third quarter wasn't called back on a holding penalty. In the Class 2A region semifinal against Immokalee, Hubbard ran 13 times for 117 yards and a season-high four touchdowns. He also caught a touchdown pass.

"When I see a crease, when I see daylight, all I think is touchdown and end zone," Hubbard said.

With his two scores against Jesuit, Hubbard is now one touchdown away from tying the school's single-season scoring record of 31 set by Zane Gilmore in 1997. He has one receiving touchdown and two kick returns for touchdowns. Last season, Hubbard rushed for 699 yards and eight touchdowns and as a sophomore, ran for 214 yards with one touchdown to give him 2,363 career yards and 36 career rushing touchdowns.

"Nobody had come close to it and now I'm the closest one to it so I'm ready to make it happen," Hubbard said of the record.

Last year, Belle Glade held Robinson to 28 total yards, including minus-54 yards rushing en route to a 33-0 win in the state semifinals. DePue knows Hubbard will be key to Robinson's success on Friday.

"J.J. is Mr. Consistency," DePue said. "He has a fumble, he has a touchdown called back (against Jesuit), but he doesn't quit. This kid is a man. He may be a little guy, but he's a man. Some Division I college is going to step up and say that kid needs to play with us."

With a win, the Knights (10-2) will face the winner of the Cocoa-Madison county state semifinal in the 2A state championship Dec. 11 at the Orlando Citrus Bowl at 7 p.m. It would mark the program's third state final appearance and first since 1971. Robinson is 0-2 all-time in the state championship.

"(The seniors) have worked four hard, long years for this so hopefully it will pay off," Hubbard said. "We've been wanting this at Robinson for a long time."

Robinson's Opponent

GLADES CENTRAL RAIDERS (10-1)

CITY: Belle Glade

COACH: Jessie Hester

PLAYOFF HISTORY: Glades Central, which has its 28th playoff team, has won six state football championships (1971, 1972, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2006) - second in Florida history only to the 10 state titles of Jacksonville Bolles.

FAMOUS FOOTBALL ALUMNI: QB Brad Banks (2002 Heisman Trophy runner-up from Iowa); WR Santonio Holmes (MVP of Super Bowl XLIII with Pittsburgh Steelers); RB Fred Taylor (11,638 career rushing yards in 13 NFL seasons).

SCOUTING REPORT: Raiders have won six straight games after falling to Fort Lauderdale Dillard, 35-31, on Oct. 15. ... QB Jamarious Rowley leads the high-powered Glades Central offense, which features Division I skill-position prospects in WR Kelvin Benjamin (6-foot-6, 215 pounds), TE Robert Way and WR Davonte Allen. ... The Robinson-Glades Central winner draws the winner of Cocoa-Madison County in the Class 2A championship game on Dec. 11. Cocoa defeated Glades Central, 27-13, in last season's 2A title game.

Joey Johnston

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