TROY – It wasn’t in character for Avondale senior Derrick Hinton Jr. to pay much attention to what Troy High School’s cheering section had to say about he and his Yellow Jackets prior to their season opener Thursday night – let alone consider replying to any of the nonsense.
But boy was it hard to do.
The Troy student section laid down a challenge on Twitter, so to speak, taking a shot at Hinton Jr. and Avondale, reminding its followers that Troy had beaten the Jackets each of the previous two seasons and all but calling for yet another Colts victory on their home field.
Instead of battling the Colts’ faithful in a war of social media words, Hinton Jr. decided to let his play on the field strike a fatal blow. The standout back – on both sides of the ball – scored a touchdown and had an interception in his team’s 28-13 victory over Troy, ending a personal two-game losing streak and helping his team regain the Little Brown Jug that the two schools play for.
“This game was really big for me because, for one, obviously they were talking stuff on Twitter,” said Hinton Jr., a four-year letterwinner. “I don’t do too much talking, I just let my game play do it for me. This game was big, not just for me, but for my teammates. I never put myself first, it’s always for me and my teammates.”
Avondale finished 6-4 in 2017, reaching the postseason for the first time since 2012. Hinton was a big part of the Yellow Jackets’ success. He and his teammates have big goals for 2018. Making the playoffs simply won’t do it. The team finished 0-2 to begin 2017. So avenging last year’s 48-25 loss to Troy was a big step in the right direction.
“The kids are buying into what we want to do here and it starts with our defense,” said Avondale head coach Ed Couturier, who is entering his third year with the program. “If we can just continue to be patient. These kids now, some of them have been in the offense for three years now, some of them for two. So they know the offense now, the defense. It’s probably the quickest team I’ve ever coached. We can just keep rolling out kids.”
Hinton Jr. is one of the leaders on both sides of the ball. He’s currently getting looks from a number of colleges. It’s certainly something he’s aware of, but he’s concentrating his efforts on helping his team win games.
“He’s so well rounded. He comes from a strong family, his parents raised him the right way,” Couturier said. “He’s a kid who loves athletics, loves sports, and he has aspirations of playing beyond high school. He’s doing everything he can to make that happen. But before all of that he’s a team player. He leads by example, he doesn’t lead by talking. And the kids follow and feed off of him.”
For at least a night, Hinton Jr. did just that. He let his game do the talking. And the Colts and their fans heard him loud and clear