Patterson’s Hilliard special on, off field

Tuesday, Nov. 30
November 30, 2010
HPD reaches out to area’s needy with food boxes
December 2, 2010
Tuesday, Nov. 30
November 30, 2010
HPD reaches out to area’s needy with food boxes
December 2, 2010

Patterson High School halfback Kenny Hilliard took a handoff in the fourth quarter of the Lumberjacks playoff game against Kaplan and staggered toward the line of scrimmage.

Once he shook a few defenders and gained a couple yards, he looked straight down the field.

There was nobody there. His eyes lit up in excitement.

Like a fully-loaded freight train with momentum, Hilliard turned straight up the field, dead sprinting into the end zone, scoring his fifth touchdown of the game n this one to officially put Kaplan out of reach to seal a Lumberjacks’ win.

Players stormed the field in celebration. Fans celebrated with their typical “Who Dat?” chants, (because yes, “Who Dat?” was invented in Patterson) and coaches shook hands and hugged to celebrate their now certain spot in the state quarterfinals.

While the celebration went on, Hilliard stayed in the end zone and dropped down to one knee, saying he was giving thanks to God for giving him the strength to help lift his team to the win.

“Give all the credit to God,” Hilliard said. “He gave me the strength to keep going and the work ethic to never give up.”

Hilliard is one of the best prep players in the country this year, ranked by as the No. 27 overall prospect in America, the No. 4 halfback in America and the No. 2 prospect in Louisiana.

With colleges fawning over his 6-foot, 218-pound statue-like frame, Hilliard chose LSU over scholarship offers from Alabama, Miami, Notre Dame, Tennessee, Texas A&M and USC.

At LSU, competition will be fierce for playing time. The Tigers will return their top four halfbacks from this year’s team n some of them are just freshman. Despite an overcrowded population in the backfield, analysts say he will see the field early because of his uncanny strength and athleticism.

For Hilliard, it was never about having to compete n after all, on this very night, he played defense for the first time in 2010 just because he felt the Lumberjacks needed help to stop Kaplan’s run-oriented offense. Competition is in his blood.

“Kenny loves football,” Patterson senior defensive end Shaquille Austin said. “This is what he loves.”

LSU just feels like home, Hilliard says. After all, his uncle Dalton was one of the greatest to ever play in Baton Rouge, eventually moving onto the NFL ranks with the New Orleans Saints.

Many people n including this writer n expect Kenny to have the same fate and to be playing on Sunday someday.

All of the time has now run off the clock just minutes after the aforementioned touchdown was scored and Patterson is indeed victorious.

Lumberjack students and supporters rush the field to take in the victory with their classmates and neighbors.

The final notes of the alma mater are sung and it’s now time for the fans to interact with and congratulate the team.

Everyone flocks to Hilliard n he’s never had so many best friends in his whole life.

Well maybe he has, because it was the same exact scene each Friday before this one throughout the season.

“Great game, Kenny,” said one person donning a Patterson cap.

“God Bless you, young man,” said another woman, giving Hilliard a kiss on the cheek.

A young boy holding a football also approached Hilliard and looked up at his lofty frame.

Hilliard crouched down to meet the youngster in his world and gave him a high-five before rising back up and talking to the next folks waiting to get a word with the state’s all-time leading rusher.

Hilliard’s met some of these people before, but some he’s never seen before in his life.

He greets all the same, taking time to thank them for their support, while urging them to go to the team’s next game n a big one against Redemptorist.

Hilliard is the local hero and he’s the person everyone is there to see.

He understands that. He accepts the role and he doesn’t disappoint them, even if it means he can’t get changed out of his uniform until an hour and a half after the game.

When high school comes to a close, it will be time for our area to showcase our gem to the rest of Louisiana and share him with the LSU universe.

Patterson’s son will soon become Louisiana’s next icon, as Hilliard will be sure to experience collegiate success.

I can assure you Hilliard will not be forgotten and he will not forget you, either.

Strong character like Kenny’s takes years to build n and it won’t soon be broken.

When one thinks of the stereotypical star football player, the words “egotistical,” “self-centered,” and “arrogant,” might come to mind.

That’s not Hilliard.

He does it the right way.

What a pleasure that is to see.