BRIDGEWATER – Dennis Dellinger’s name didn’t ring a bell. Neither did Dave Miller’s.
But who can blame Turner Ashby High School senior teammates Shane Brown and Evan Hanifee? Dellinger played football in the 1970s. Miller was suiting up for the Knights in the ’60s.
Both TA’s single-season rushing and passing records have stood since those decades. Surprisingly, this could be the year that changes.
Even though Turner Ashby has just two wins – with two games left in the regular season – Brown is only 261 rushing yards shy of breaking Dellinger’s school record of 1,474 yards, set in 1971. Hanifee is 285 passing yards away from overtaking Miller’s mark of 1,493 set in 1966.
Oh, and there’s one more: Hanifee’s younger brother, Brenan, is 192 receiving yards short of Chase Miller’s single-season record of 727 set in 2010.
“Having the opportunity to break all these records kind of speaks to how good our offense has been all year,” said Evan Hanifee, who leads the seven-team Valley District for the second straight year with 1,209 passing yards. “It kind of explains how crazy it is that we’re just 2-6, you know? So, it kind of speaks to where we aren’t as good, talking about the defensive side of the ball. But it’s really cool that we have so many guys right there, trying to get some school records.”
“It’s awesome,” Brown said of the possibility of having three TA records fall. “To be honest, if I say I don’t want the record, I’m lying. But I just try to go play and have fun. I don’t try to let records stress me out. Like if I don’t get it, I won’t be upset about it. I’d love to have it.”
Brown thrust himself into the record-book conversation by running for an all-time school-best 315 yards in Friday’s 48-36 win over Harrisonburg, taking advantage of cutback lanes on toss sweeps to the right side. His ankle-busting moves took care of the rest during a five-touchdown performance, including an 80-yard score late in the fourth quarter.
“Shane’s vision, most of all, is what impresses me the most, being able to see the cutbacks,” Evan Hanifee said.
It was a night that started uncertainly with a fumble, but Brown said he promised his linemen he’d “make it up to them” and did just that.
“Coaches have always told me when I get the ball, just do whatever I see,” said Brown, who typically lines up on the left side of TA’s double-wing set. “They don’t get mad if I make the wrong cut or whatever, because that’s what I do. I cut. They give me a lot of freedom when I run the ball.”
Brown will be hard-pressed to find similar room on the ground this week.
The Trailblazers (7-1) will be carrying a seven-game winning streak out of their bye week when they host TA on Friday. Spotswood’s defense has allowed a 100-yard rusher only four times this season, two of which came in a comfortable 56-28 win against William Monroe in Week 2. The other two were Wilson Memorial’s Savant Swift – who managed 139 yards, the most this season against SHS – and Central’s Daniel Molina (107 in a double-overtime loss).
In four Valley District games, the Blazers have allowed just nine combined points while yielding no more than 68 yards to any one rusher.
That doesn’t bode well for Brown. However, he will finish the season against Waynesboro, a less-stout defense that has allowed a league-high 362 points.
“He’s definitely got a chance at it,” TA coach Charlie Newman said.
Brown already ranks No. 8 on the school’s all-time rushing list.
Brenan Hanifee, meanwhile, has had a hot hand – or hands — this month. The sophomore leads the district with 536 receiving yards on 25 catches, and Brown said he’s helped open up running lanes as defenses have had to respect the pass more. Evan Hanifee has completed 66 of 120 passes, and he threw for 281 against Jefferson Forest this season.
Averaging 151.8 rushing yards per game, Brown appears to be the most likely candidate to set a TA record as he’s on pace for 1,517 yards on the ground. He ranks third in the area with 1,214 rushing yards, just 71 shy of Spotswood’s Matt Slater.
R.E. Lee quarterback Javon Chisley leads the area in that category with 1,543 yards on 154 carries.
Big-time college suitors have not come knocking for Brown’s services. Brown, who is also a talented shooting guard in basketball, has garnered only Division III interest, Newman said. That’s partly due to lacking “top-line speed,” Newman said. But Brown – who has no offers from either sport – has certainly passed the eye test with spectators since running for 1,001 yards and 19 touchdowns on 185 carries as a junior.
“I’ve had a lot of coaches from outside our area and [athletic directors] actually that have commented on Shane,” Newman said. “He’s the best running back they’ve seen. He’s got great vision. He’s got a great burst. He jump cuts, he slashes, he’s got power to run through people.”
And Brown could get all he needs against Waynesboro, which has proven ineffective against the run, allowing at least three 200-yard rushers this season.