Revisiting the Epic High School Duel Between Lamar Jackson and Tyler Huntley
Now that Lamar Jackson and Tyler Huntley are teammates, the quarterbacks' epic high school duel from nearly six years ago continues to be revisited.
Much like Al Bundy's four-touchdown performance for Polk High, the showdown for a Florida district title that saw Huntley and Hallandale edge Jackson and Boynton Beach, 38-36, on Halloween Night 2014 has achieved mythic status in certain circles.
The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec recently spoke with participants from the game, who still have vivid memories of the contest that featured Jackson and Huntley combining for eight touchdowns.
"Lamar did what Lamar does," former Hallandale running back Taj McGowan told Zrebiec. "But every time Lamar did something incredible, Tyler just fed off that. He was locked in and focused."
During Huntley's appearance on "The Lounge" podcast last month, he said: "I remember Lamar just doing his thing, just running up the scoreboard. In order for us to win the game, we had to keep going back and forth with him."
Jackson certainly hasn't forgotten about the game. When the Ravens signed Huntley, an undrafted free agent out of Utah hoping to make the team as a backup, the reigning NFL MVP welcomed him to Baltimore in a tweet but added, "You owe me from that game. I didn't forget."
With Boynton Beach trailing, 35-22, with just under four minutes to play, Jackson nearly pulled off an improbable comeback.
"In arguably his most impressive play of the night, Jackson spun out off a sack attempt and while on the run, threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to Chauncey Mason to make it a six-point game," Zrebiec wrote. "Like they did in the previous week's wild 63-58 win over Coconut Creek, Boynton Beach then recovered an onside kick with 2:47 remaining.
"It took Jackson a little more than two minutes to lead his team to the go-ahead score. His 17-yard pass was hauled in by [Donte] Sylencieux, who made a one-handed catch with a defender draped all over him in the back of the end zone. Suddenly, it was 36-35 Boynton Beach with 30 seconds remaining."
Former Hallandale Coach Dameon Jones said: "You think you're up 13 and it's over, but not with Lamar. He can go 90 any time he touches the ball. He put that whole team on his back and willed them. He did it all year."
After Hallandale got the ball back, Huntley threw what could've been a game-ending interception, but the official ruled the defender was out of bounds. Hallandale went on to win the game on a 31-yard field goal by an inexperienced kicker on loan from the soccer team.
"Huntley passed for more than 300 yards and three touchdowns as the junior more than held his own as the less-heralded of the two quarterbacks," Zrebiec wrote. "Jackson, meanwhile, accounted for more than 400 yards of total offense and five touchdowns. He then made an even bigger impression on his opponents on his way back to Boynton Beach. Within a half-hour after the game ended, Jackson sent out congratulatory tweets to Jones and other members of Hallandale's team."
Said Jones: "He won my respect right then. What high school kid does that? He was a hell of a talent, but I'll always remember him for that. He was a man playing with boys in high school."
Forever bonded because of that game, Jackson and Huntley developed a friendship over the years.
"They've been cool. They kept in contact when Lamar went to college, when Tyler went to college," former Hallandale player Joshua Hammond said. "I know Tyler is going to learn a lot from him and he's a sponge that wants to continue to learn. I'm excited that he's with someone who will take care of him. I definitely think that's special."
Why Devin Duvernay Is a Perfect Fit for Ravens Offense
Remember when Head Coach John Harbaugh pumped his fist after the team drafted Texas wide receiver Devin Duvernay in the third round? Anthony Rizzo, who writes about the Longhorns for SB Nation, understands why Harbaugh was so enthusiastic.
"In drafting Duvernay, Baltimore added a deep threat with blazing speed who also has the strong hands and separation ability to serve as a security blanket for Jackson," Rizzo wrote. "In fact, he may be the most sure-handed wide receiver in this year's rookie class.
"Time and time again, he hauled in over-the-shoulder throws from [Texas quarterback] Sam Ehlinger with ease. He'll complement Hollywood Brown as a deep threat in their offense."
As noted in yesterday's Late for Work, expectations are growing for the Ravens' passing game, thanks in part to a trio of young wide receivers: Duvernay and second-year players Brown and Miles Boykin.
Rizzo noted that the 5-foot-11, 210-pound Duvernay thrived in the slot in college after moving to that position for his senior season, which is another reason he and the Ravens are a perfect fit.
"It turned out that he should have primarily been used as a slot receiver his entire college career," Rizzo wrote. "It's worth noting that Baltimore had 19 touchdown receptions from players lined up in the slot in 2019. No other NFL team had more than 15, per [Pro Football Focus].
"Joining one of the league's most prolific offenses and well-run organizations, Duvernay possesses the tools to help Jackson build on his MVP season, which could potentially push the Ravens over the top in the AFC this season."
Ravens Wire's Kevin Oestreicher also believes Duvernay has the potential to make the league's highest-scoring offense last year even more potent.
"With a skill set that could work at any spot on the field, Duvernay has the chance to make a serious impact as a matchup nightmare for an offense that's trying to become undefendable," Oestreicher wrote.
NFL.com Analyst: Jump on Browns, Bengals Bandwagons
While the Ravens are Super Bowl contenders and a number of pundits believe a healthy Ben Roethlisberger makes the Pittsburgh Steelers a playoff team, the other two AFC North teams shouldn't be dismissed, NFL.com's Adam Schein wrote.
Fans of the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals should also jump on their team's bandwagon in 2020, according to Schein.Schein, who picked the Browns to win the AFC North last year, predicted they'll make the playoffs this season.
"I truly believe these Browns are different – and much improved after an offseason full of significant additions (and subtractions)," Schein wrote. "Tight end Austin Hooper and offensive tackle Jack Conklin were ideal pickups in free agency. They'll make [Baker] Mayfield better. As will first-round OT Jedrick Wills. And Baker will thrive in his first season under the biggest addition of all: a new head coach/play-caller in the form of the cerebral and buttoned-up Kevin Stefanski."
As for the Bengals, Schein doesn't see them making the playoffs in 2020, but believes they have a bright future.
"Joe Burrow has it. He's going to change the perception – and reality – with the Bengals in the coming years," Schein wrote. "And I love how the team immediately supported him with the second-round selection of WR Tee Higgins. … I love where Cincy is headed."