Southlake Carroll coach Hal Wasson doesn’t like to get caught up in comparisons between Kenny Hill and the great Dragons quarterbacks of the past.
In his mind, there is no comparison. Chase Wasson, Chase Daniel, Greg McElroy and Riley Dodge all have state-title rings. Hill, a junior, doesn’t.
At least not yet anyway, but the Dragons are just two wins away from changing that.
And if they do win their first state title since the Todd Dodge era, Hill will be the one to lead them despite having the enormous pressure of living up to the legacy of not just one, but four state champion quarterbacks from the recent past.
“There’s a kind of fraternity there,” Wasson said of Carroll and its long history of producing FBS quarterbacks. “It’s a very positive thing. In our quarterback clinics, we’ll say ‘These are the things Chase Wasson did well. These are the things Chase Daniel did well. But you’re Kenny Hill. You’re you. You’re not them.’”
Hill’s success comes despite being thrown into the fire as a sophomore. In 2010, he was thrust into the starting role following the Daxx Garman controversy, but Hill was as prepared a sophomore could be for that situation.
He’s played quarterback dating back to his days in youth football, and his father – former Rangers pitcher Ken Hill – knows a thing or two about preparing for a life in athletics.
“We knew he was a good athlete and could throw the ball, but the thing that really impressed me initially was his demeanor,” Wasson said of Hill. “I saw in his eyes that he wasn’t really overwhelmed by any of it. I’m sure he was to some degree but he really didn’t show it outwardly. That’s impressed me.”
Wasson recalled Carroll’s 35-17 loss to what turned out to be a very good Coppell team in 2010. Making just his third career start, Hill struggled with the speed of the game and threw an early interception that seemed to rattle him, but Wasson noticed the sophomore learning as the game went along.
In Carroll’s area-round playoff game against Colleyville Heritage at Cowboys Stadium that same year, Wasson saw Hill take a leap forward. Hill threw another early pick in a big game, but there was a different look in Hill’s eyes this time.
“I was comforted because he came off the field and knew exactly what happened,” Wasson said. “He responded in a flurry, like it ignited him to a whole different level. That’s when I knew this guy has the ‘it.’”
Hill has since taken on an expanded role in Carroll’s offense. The Dragons are much more apt to throw the ball this year as Hill has 2,679 passing yards and 23 touchdowns, and the running game has become almost solely the quarterback. Hill has rushed for 1,197 yards and 19 touchdowns.
“He’s more of a complete playmaker now,” Wasson said.
Because of Hill’s rapid maturation, the Dragons (14-0) have a chance to win a state title and will likely be in contention next year as well, when Hill is a senior.
Hill stands to be one the most highly recruited quarterback in his class in the area and could be more highly sought after than his illustrious predecessors.
And adding a state title to his resume certainly wouldn’t hurt.