By John Ring
Published April 15, 2021 in The Burg
There are times when a high school football or basketball player performs at a level that you expect of seniors - only they aren’t seniors.
You know who I’m talking about. Basketball players like Molly Watson or Grant Gibson. Football players like Derrek Blackwell or Beau Shay. They were underclassmen but played like seniors on the field. That’s Hunter DeVena, in a nutshell.
Hunter’s just a junior but he plays both ways, on offense and defense. In Galesburg’s game against Rock Island, DeVena, from his defensive end position, had seven solo tackles, six assisted tackles, two tackles for loss of yardage and a quarterback sack.
In other words, he was all over the field. And for a defensive end that’s pretty impressive. “I play at linebacker at times but not very much. It depends what kind of a set we’re in. But rushing the passer, using my speed and making tackles is what I like to do. I like playing both positions and
I feel like the coaches trust me in what I do on the field.”
DeVena credits his Silver Streak teammates with getting through a canceled season, few practices and an abbreviated 2021 season and still play compete at a high level. Galesburg was 2-0 before losing late in their third game to Rock Island and lost to Moline by just three points on Friday night “We gave it everything we had and were in the game against Rock Island. I hate to blame the referees but a couple of calls hurt us. But we were right there, the game was there for us to win.”
“It’s been a tough year but we fought through the covid stuff. Other teams didn’t but we did and we are better for it.”
“It’s different here than before,” continued the Streaks junior about the Streaks football team. “
Coach Washabaugh has changed the culture here and we have a corps group who has bought into it. We have to get better.”
Hunter alluded to the fact that with the addition of teams from Geneseo and Sterling, the
Streaks had to get better to compete and win. “Bringing Geneseo and Sterling into the Big 6, you couldn’t pick two tougher teams. It’s made our Conference better. It’s definitely one of the best in Illinois right now.”
DeVena loves the atmosphere on the field and tries to be the go-to guy, both on defense and offense. “I like to think I’m that kind of player, a go-to player. If we need a stop, I need to make that tackle.”
“We've had a good year that could have been better. Beating Geneseo was big and we were on top of the world after that game but we have to play one game at a time.”
It was a tough loss to Moline but the Western Big 6 has been very unpredictable in this bizarre, shortened season. Still, it's good to see the Silver Streaks competing at a very respectable level and to be so close on the cusp of better things despite injuries, a short practice season and a tough schedule.