Jaxin Patterson and Austin Romaine share Hillsboro High’s offensive workload.
The two running backs combined for 2,589 rushing yards and 32 touchdowns last fall, leading the Hawks to their first winning season since 2017.
Patterson wants extra if Romaine runs 35 yards. He said, “36.” Patterson and Romaine are best friends, A-students, and team leaders who push each other to greatness.
Romaine remarked, “Sometimes he’ll rush for more yards, but I’ll have more yards per carrying or the contrary.”
Patterson and Romaine have caused problems for varsity opponents since they were freshmen. They will lead Hillsboro into the upcoming season as the No. 9 small school.
Last season, Patterson and Romaine ran well. Patterson ran for 289 yards against Poplar Bluff. Romaine rushed for 232 yards against Festus in a district semifinal.
Hillsboro coach Bill Sucharski said, “They’re both tough, physical kids who get a lot of yards after contact and can score.”
The Hawks scored 40+ points in seven of 11 games last season, but their defense was equally impressive. Hillsboro shut out five opponents during the regular season and Festus in the playoffs.
Romaine has verbally committed to play linebacker at Kansas State. “Being fit is also important. Our defense depends on playing hard all four quarters.
Last season’s playoff exit was due to fatigue and familiarity. Hillsboro scored 76 points in wins against Festus and North County in weeks 4 and 5, but only 13 in two playoff games against them, including a 24-0 loss to North County in Class 4 District 1 final.
Patterson said coaches compared rushing and passing yards, examined the film, and put nine defenders in the box. “It worked until it didn’t.”
The Hawks plan to be more balanced offensively with the rise of junior A.J. Heuszel and sophomore Preston Brown.
Sucharski: “They’ve both done well in camp, and we’ve evenly shared their reps.” Chase Sucharski, Bill’s son, caught six passes for 88 yards and a touchdown last season (five catches for 49 yards).
“We have a lot of returners at the skill positions, and we have to do a better job of getting them the ball to alleviate some burden off (Patterson and Romaine),” Bill Sucharski said.
More balance in the Hawks’ approach will relieve strain on an offensive line that returns only one starter, Wyatt Yaeger. Max Deranja and Wyatt Phillips will play guard with senior Xavier Brown at the center.
Hillsboro’s returning defensive starters could be a strength early in the season.
Alex Tabares-Medina (46 tackles, 4 sacks) leads a powerful defensive front, while Harrison Voyles (31 tackles, 1 interception) heads a deep secondary that includes Larson, Collin Klaus, Gavin Alexander, Griffin Ray, and Keiten Pipkins.
Hillsboro’s linebacking corps, which includes Patterson, senior Canyon Stout, and sophomore Peyton Brown, is led by Romaine, who had 100 tackles and eight sacks last season.
“During a change of possession, he tells the coaches how the opponent is responding to our blitzes and which blitzes will counter it. Sucharski claimed he does it in 15-20 seconds before going on the offensive. “It shows how smart and talented he is.”
Through Romaine and Patterson’s leadership, team cohesion has blossomed, as proven by a hype video the players filmed Monday.
Romaine: “It’s a brotherhood.” “Everyone is close; we hang out after practice. Being a good team means having each other’s backs.”
Romaine and Patterson know the other is always seeking to take bragging rights.
Patterson: “Anyone who’s competitive wants the ball, the most yards, and the best.” “It makes us better.”
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