Believe it or don’t, but Sam Huard, the two-time state leader in passing yards, made more majestic throws this year than he ever had.
At least that’s how the rocket-armed junior quarterback for Kennedy Catholic said he felt. And the throws in his repertoire on the Lancers’ route tree his first two seasons were still well advanced of what his coaches ever dreamed.
“I usually don’t worry too much about that stuff,” Huard said. “But there have been some times this year where I was just like, ‘Man, that was a pretty good ball – I’m not going to lie.’”
His QB rating (123.8) was the highest it’s ever been, he finished his second consecutive season with more than 4,000 passing yards and he tossed 56 touchdown passes.
But here’s what Slingin’ Sammy actually cares about: Kennedy Catholic finished its season 11-1, earned the No. 1 seed into the Class 4A state playoffs, and reached the state quarterfinals for the first time since 2012.
That’s why the University of Washington’s legacy commit is the 2019 Star Times offensive football player of the year.
But the Lancers were dreaming of state hardware before suffering their first loss of the season Saturday night against No. 8 Woodinville 55-42, including Huard throwing a pick-six that helped put the Lancers in a 28-0 hole in the first quarter.
He responded by throwing three touchdowns and completing 34 of 50 passes for 421 yards to get Kennedy back in the game before it ultimately fell short.
Huard said sitting and watching the state playoffs from home his first two high-school seasons lit a fire in him. So expect an early exit in his first taste of state football and one more chance to capture a state championship before he heads to UW to drive him even more.
“We put in so much work and this team has been so focused, and I’ve put in so much work,” Huard said. “I put everything I have into this game because I love it and I love my coaches and I love my school and I just want to do the best I can and go win a state championship for everyone.”
That quarterfinals loss shouldn’t detract from what was one of the greatest seasons for a high-school quarterback in state history.
Huard has thrown for 11,741 yards in three seasons, passing former Prosser star Kellen Moore for fourth-most career passing yards in state history. As long as he’s healthy his senior year it’s likely he’ll pass DeSales’ Brian Lindgren (12,575), Skyline’s Max Browne (12,953) and Shadle Park’s Brett Rypien (13,044).
His 132 career touchdowns are tied with former Eatonville quarterback Bobby Lucht for fifth-most in state history. Moore holds the record of 173 TDs.
“By far this has been his best season,” Kennedy Catholic coach Sheldon Cross said. “He’s making throws I’ve never seen before, throws I’ve never seen from any high-school quarterback.”
A couple of examples:
Against Kentwood with the NPSL Mountain Division title on the line, Huard completed a 97-yard touchdown pass to Jabez Tinae, but maybe the most impressive part was that it traveled about 50 yards in the air before hitting his receiver in stride.
In the state preliminary round against North Creek, Huard got Kennedy out of a third-and-37 jam with a 40-yard TD pass to Junior Alexander.
“I just threw it to the corner of the end zone, and he just made an awesome play on an awesome route,” Huard said. “And I was just like, ‘Wow.’ It was such a good feeling. You put so much into this and when you make big plays like that in big moments, it’s awesome.”
Huard has made high-school football look easy – much like his dad, Damon Huard, did at Puyallup High School, along with his uncles Brock and Luke. And he’s the top-ranked quarterback in the nation for the 2021 class by 247Sports.com.
But it’s the adversity that’s fueled him. He said he wouldn’t trade his first two years, even if it did mean missing the state playoffs in both.
His work ethic this past offseason, constantly reaching out to his receivers to go throw to, pouring over game film and hitting the weight room, pushed everyone, said his teammate and go-to receiver Junior Alexander.
That included the returning starters on Kennedy’s defense, which allowed 40.5 points per game in 2018. It allowed 19.8 per game this year. It pushed the Lancers’ coaches, who committed to fixing their run defense so Kennedy’s high-flying offense wouldn’t be relegated to the sideline for quarters at a time.
Justin Baker, a Cal commit and one of Kennedy’s plethora of talented receivers, said he likes to pride himself on being the hardest worker on the team. But he had to admit, that’s a hard title to keep with Huard as a teammate.
“I would like be finally getting a chance to lay down and then he’ll call and say, ‘Hey, you want to go work out,’” Baker laughed. “Or we’ll work out before practice, and Sam will go to you after practice and say, ‘Hey, I’m going to go lift.’ And I’ll be like, ‘Well, I can’t just let you go lift while I go home.’ So of course, now I have to keep working.”
Don’t expect that to change much this offseason.
“You have to be forged in fire,” Cross said, “to earn the right to say, ‘I can do difficult things.’ … To be confident.”
2019 Star Times football team, offense
Clay Millen, Mount Si
Quarterback, 6-3, 185, jr.
Few knew how Millen would handle his first season running the Wildcats, taking over for his brother, Cale. How about a trip to the state semifinals, with Millen, the son of former UW and NFL QB Hugh Millen, throwing for 2,974 yards and 33 TDs with just one interception?
Christian Galvan, Bothell
Running back, 5-8, 185, sr.
Bothell football has been more synonymous with its passing schemes over the years, but what a luxury to have Galvan, the two-time KingCo 4A Crown offensive player of the year, in the backfield and his 5,462 all-purpose yards and 44 touchdowns for his career.
Jordan Justice, Marysville-Pilchuck
Running back, 6-0, 195, sr.
Team leader for WesCo 3A-champion Tomahawks, with numbers to back it up. Through 11 weeks Justice had 1,352 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns to go with five interceptions and a defensive TD.
Lonyatta “Junior” Alexander, Kennedy Catholic
Wide receiver, 6-2, 185, jr.
What’s better – Sam Huard’s throws, or Alexander’s playmaking? How about both? Their connection has been the best it ever has at Kennedy, with Alexander hauling 59 catches for 1,222 yards and 23 touchdowns for the No. 1 seeded Lancers.
Evan Liggett, Lake Washington
Wide receiver, 6-2, 175, sr.
The KingCo 2A/3A offensive player of the year ran away as the league’s top receiver, catching 57 passes for 840 yards and eight touchdowns, including 10 catches for 217 yards and three TDs against Bellevue. Doubled as a first-team DB with five INTs.
Gee Scott Jr., Eastside Catholic
Wide receiver, 6-3, 215, sr.
What can’t the Ohio State commit do? Not only spectacular catches and jaw-dropping athleticism, but opposing coaches praise his aptitude as a run blocker, too. Reminds others of former Lakes standout Reggie Williams.
Logan Bruce-Jones, Lake Stevens
Offensive lineman, 6-5, 300, sr.
Hard to believe the Vikings’ O-line was this good all season, even without WSU-bound Devin Kylany. Until you watch Bruce-Jones. Leads Lake Stevens in pancakes on a line that has so far only allowed one sack in the regular season.
Wyatt Hansen, Kentwood
Offensive lineman, 6-4, 280, sr.
Eastern Washington commit wore down opposing defensive linemen, paving the way for Kentwood’s run game to relieve pressure on its passing attack. Hard not to be impressed watching Hansen, who was the NPSL’s offensive lineman of the year.
Gale Kamp, Mount Si
Offensive lineman, 6-3, 255, sr.
Eastern Washington commit was a KingCo 4A first-team pick on offense and defense, giving the Wildcats the muscle their high-octane offense needs in their first trip to the state semifinals since 2012.
Owen Prentice, O’Dea
Offensive lineman, 6-4, 280, jr.
Want to see how offensive linemen are supposed to play? You can’t help but notice Prentice, the two-time Metro League Mountain Division lineman of the year (with one more year to to), with how much havoc he causes in the trenches (both ways).
Levi Rogers, Woodinville
Offensive lineman, 6-5, 275, sr.
Two-time KingCo 4A lineman of the year, likely a two-time all-state pick, committed to Stanford University. Rogers is a road grader for the Falcons at left tackle, and a welcome addition since he moved from Boston his sophomore year.
Grady Robison, Eastlake
All-purpose, 6-2, 185, sr.
He was the Lamar Jackson of 4A KingCo. A rocket arm (completed 148 of 259 passes for 2071 yards and 19 TDs) and a district-champion sprinter, the Montana State commit ran for 1,053 yards and 12 TDs on 162 carries.
Blake Glessner, Woodinville
Kicker, 6-2, 160, sr.
Drilled a 48-yard field goal in the first round of the state playoffs, and he regularly boots kicks into the end zone. Returning all-state placekicker was even stronger this year, but just a kicker? Nope. Also a first-team all-league cornerback this year.