Written by Matt Wixon
Wixon: Southlake Carroll QB Kenny Hill takes charge when going gets tough
The offenses for DeSoto and Southlake Carroll can strike fear into any defense. Each has a powerful line and is loaded with productive backs and receivers, and the combination has produced a lot of fireworks. Carroll and DeSoto have gained more yards than any other 5A teams in the Dallas area.
It’s a collective effort of 11 players on each play. But one player from each offense has stood out all season and must stand out Saturday as DeSoto (13-0) and Carroll (12-1) battle at SMU’s Ford Stadium for a spot in the Class 5A Division I state semifinals.
For Carroll, the guy who lights the fuse is senior quarterback Kenny Hill, who is orally committed to Texas A&M. For DeSoto, it’s senior running back Dontre Wilson, who is committed to Oregon.
Here’s why both are so valuable — and on the short list to be the SportsDayHS offensive player of the year at season’s end.
Kenny Hill won’t wow fans with a lot of spectacular moves that resemble something from a video game. But the senior quarterback’s game as a whole is quite spectacular.
And every game, Hill seems to pull off a coat and tie and emerge as Southlake Carroll’s Superman.
Carroll has an excellent offensive line, a deep group of reliable receivers and a tough defense. The Dragons would still be very good without their star quarterback. But they might not be where they are right now, and they certainly wouldn’t be the defending 5A Division I state champions.
Hill is among the area leaders in rushing and passing, and 54 of Carroll’s 90 touchdowns are on passes or runs by him. But his importance to Carroll goes far beyond the numbers.
“Kenny has an aura about him,” Carroll coach Hal Wasson said. “It comes from his competitive spirit, attention to detail, focus and mental toughness. Those are simple things, but they are difficult to attain week after week and year after year. That’s what separates him from others.”
Hill is listed at 6-1 and 205 pounds, but he actually looks bigger than that on the field. Maybe it’s because the senior can carry, and has carried, so much weight on his shoulders.
In last year’s run to the state title, Hill helped Carroll rally from second-half deficits in four playoff games. In addition to his accurate passing, he ran the ball a whopping 136 times in the playoffs.
In the semifinals against Skyline, Hill scored the game-winning touchdown on a 35-yard run with 46 seconds left. He then ran for two touchdowns in Carroll’s 36-29 victory over Fort Bend Hightower in the championship game, but his best runs were nowhere near the end zone.
With three minutes left, Carroll ran out the clock by giving the ball to Hill. He ran five straight times and picked up two first downs.
“I knew I just had to get a first down,” Hill said after the game. “Everybody put their faith in me.”
He’s a good reason for Carroll fans to have faith. Hill can throw with great accuracy, run with good speed and great power, and he responds well to adversity. He threw an interception late in the third quarter last week against Euless Trinity, but on the next possession, he converted two third downs with passes and another with a run to set up a field goal that made it a two-possession game.
The guy is nails under pressure. Arlington Martin coach Bob Wager, whose team lost to Carroll in the first round of the playoffs, calls Hill a “phenom.”
“I think the greatest compliment you can give a player is to say he’s a great teammate,” Wasson said, “and Kenny’s a great teammate.”
He makes everyone better, and he gives Carroll a chance to beat DeSoto.
Follow Matt Wixon on Twitter at @mattwixon.