High school football: Hughes takes in satisfaction after Sandstoners gain triumph

Oct. 7—POTSDAM — Junior Brodey Hughes received a compliment from Potsdam football coach Jim Kirka, who said of Hughes, "He's a football player."

Hughes, a running back and linebacker, has been a bright spot for a young and mostly inexperienced Sandstoners team.

Potsdam had lost 10 straight football games, dating back to the shortened COVID-19 season in the spring of 2021.

But last weekend the Sandstoners finally got the chance to enjoy a win for all the hard work they put in during practices, beating St. Lawrence Central, 30-6.

"I feel like, as a town, it was pretty big for us," Hughes said. "We have our sights on bigger goals here. Winning brought us together. We pride ourselves as a good, tight family. That helped us see we can win.

"It's been tough. There have been a lot of tough weeks the past two years. We trusted the process and eventually we knew our time would come."

Heading into this weekend, Hughes ranked second in the Northern Athletic Conference rushing statistics, with 521 yards gained in three games. He's averaging 6.4 yards per carry.

"He doesn't have breakaway speed, so it's a bunch of small chunks," Kirka said. "I wasn't sure how he was going to take to the tailback spot. He's learning, like a lot of our kids. Brodey is a football player. He's physical. He lets us grind (drives) out. He's not going to take it (for a long touchdown) but he's a good guy between the tackles."

Hughes missed Potsdam's opening game at Gouverneur with a wrist injury.

Since then he's been a force.

In his first game this season, he gained 214 yards on 36 carries against Malone. Against Ogdensburg Free Academy's physical defense, he picked up 86 yards on 25 carries and last weekend he produced 221 yards on 20 carries.

"The hardest-hitting team was probably Ogdensburg," Hughes said. "Every play they are gunning and they gang tackle. They are always hungry and I respect that out of them. Gouverneur always has some big boys."

Hughes saw some time running the ball last year, but he was a starter at linebacker, a position he still holds.

"He takes a pounding and doesn't complain," Kirka said. "He doesn't ask to come out. He is our leading tackler, too. He still has another year, so if he does the right stuff he can have a great year next year."

On pretty much every play of a Potsdam game Hughes is either getting hit, or dishing out hits.

"The morning after a game I'm usually very sore," Hughes said. "People will ask me if I want to do something and I'll tell them I just want to sit and watch college football on TV. I like the options (at linebacker). It's not like defensive line where you are going up and trying to hit the quarterback. With linebacker there is so much more thinking to do. I like to read things and see where things are going. I also get to read what other running backs are doing to help my game."

Hughes is a student of football. He watches a lot of game film to prepare himself each week.

"A lot of (running back) has to come down to reading what linebackers are doing," Hughes said. "You usually know if they will be aggressive or laid back after the first couple of plays."

Times have been rough for the Sandstoners the past few years, but Hughes feels like it won't be too long before the team starts winning more games.

"I think we are on the right track," Hughes said. "That's for sure. We have a lot of young guys and a lot of new guys to football. After that (SLC) win, we all started to buy in. Last year we weren't the best at showing up for things like summer workouts. This upcoming group of guys is a little more motivated."

The Hughes file

Parents: Mark and Heather

Sister: Hannah

Other activity: Member of FFA (Agriculture) Club