Two games into the regular season, the Hylton High School football team has shown a knack for resilience.
In the Bulldogs’ season opener Aug. 30 against visiting Mount Vernon, they took advantage of miscues to pull out a 35-28 victory after Colby Bonds returned a blocked field-goal attempt and ran 57 yards for the game-winning touchdown with 8.7 seconds left.
Last Friday in a back-and-forth game at West Potomac, Hylton stopped the Wolverines from converting a two-point version on a pass attempt with three minutes remaining and then moved the ball well enough to run out the clock for a 34-33 victory.
In each instance, the Bulldogs faced prolific offenses led by Division I-bound quarterbacks in Fonnae Webb (Richmond) at Mount Vernon and JT Mayo (William & Mary) at West Potomac.
But Hylton head coach Tony Lilly credited his team with sticking together no matter the circumstances.
“I’ve had some teams where in those situations they folded and kind of backed down,” Lilly said. “Seeing the personality of these kids, it’s encouraging.”
Lilly cited the play of his running backs as a perfect example of Hylton’s selfless play. The Bulldogs rotated Bonds, senior Juanya Braxton and freshman Mekhi Blakney without incident.
“There’s not a prima donna among them,” Lilly said. “That’s a telltale sign. We used three running backs and none of them were wondering about their carries.”
Lilly was particularly proud of the way Hylton played down the stretch against West Potomac.
The Wolverines led 14-0 in the third quarter before Hylton scored the next 22 points. By the third quarter, the Bulldogs led 34-20 on junior quarterback Tyler Mitchell’s second touchdown pass of the game.
But West Potomac rallied and got within one on a 42-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. At that point, the Bulldogs kept their composure to close out the game and improve to 2-0 going into Friday’s Cardinal District opener against visiting Gar-Field (1-1), where they will square off against another dangerous quarterback in junior Bishop Fitzgerald.
“We made a big stand there,” Lilly said of West Potomac’s failed two-point attempt. “They realized this was something big.”
Lilly said there is still room for improvement. There were opportunities for Hylton to score potentially four more touchdowns against West Potomac if not for some missed blocking assignments.
But he likes what he’s seeing.
“I feel we are getting better,” Lilly said.