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Hancock's Hess is all business

October 11, 1998|By Bill Sterner / Staff Correspondent

Hancock's Hess is all business

State rushing mark doesn't have effect on Panther leader

HANCOCK - He deflects praise as easily as he defends a forward pass on the football field.

His easy smile can be as misleading as his sudden cutback, the one that leaves tacklers gasping in disbelief that the runaway truck wearing No. 44 could deftly slip by a defender on one play and then, with a frightening collision, flatten him on the next.

His quiet demeanor and his emotionless stare at yet another unlucky defensive unit speaks volumes. And the yards keep piling up.

Faster than a speeding bullet?

Not exactly. But Hancock senior Sam Hess has become a hometown hero to a few hundred faithful fans who turn out each week to support the smallest school in Maryland to field a football team.

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Friday night, Hess, the reluctant recipient of their praise, gave them all a game to remember.

And nine short hours after he plowed through the St. James Saints for 446 yards on 28 tries to set a Maryland record, Hess attended his school's pancake breakfast to benefit the basketball programs.

A half dozen people call to him across the parking lot expressing congratulations. Mayor Dan Murphy, whose son Allen plays offensive tackle, shakes his hand and thanks him for mentioning the play of the line.

It seems that since the legendary Paul "Bear" Imphong started the Hancock football program in 1956, no one has seen the likes of Hess, a 6-1, 235-pound dynamo who plays 48 minutes every time out.

"We have had a lot of good kids pass through this program," said former assistant coach Ronnie Trail. "But Sammy, well, he is spectacular."

Hess' playing time is not so much regulated by the needs of the Panthers as it is driven by the work ethic of the tailback/fullback/linebacker/special teams standout. Hess believes his responsilbility as a leader merits he lead by example. And, the example he sets would do many players well to emulate.

"I wish Paul (Norris) could have carried the ball a few more times," Hess said of his new backfield mate, the 240-pound center-turned-fullback. "He was having so much fun last night, and when he scored that touchdown, that was the highlight of my evening."

He has got to be kidding, right?

Never mind Hess scored six touchdowns of his own on his way to obliterating the state rushing record of 418 yards by Darnell Dennis of Cambridge-South Dorchester in 1996.

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