Andre Northrup does everything well for the Hawks, and he is hoping to help the program to its eighth consecutive league title
No one associated with the Class 2A Greater St. Helens League overlooked Andre Northrup in the spring football season.
The other coaches saw him making plays every game for the undefeated Hockinson Hawks.
Still, it is entirely possible there was a missed opportunity with the way the league set up its all-league team.
The 2A GSHL has a spot for a player of the year on offense and a player of the year on defense. But no overall MVP. The players who were voted to those spots were incredible. No doubt about it.
Still, a case could be made that without Andre Northrup, the Hockinson Hawks would have lost one, two, maybe three games. The Hawks were in three really close games. Every game, there was Northrup doing something special on offense and defense. In a fourth game, the Hawks eventually pulled away in a close game after Northrup returned a kickoff for a touchdown.
“If there was a single MVP of the entire 2A GSHL last year, it should have been Andre Northrup,” new Hockinson coach Clint LeCount said.
Other coaches throughout the league echoed that thought. No one was saying that anyone voted the wrong way. There just wasn’t an overall category, for an athlete who shines on both sides of the ball and even special teams.
“I really think that’s really kind,” Northrup said of hearing about that recognition. “I’m one of the players to watch, and that means a lot to me. In the years following Sawyer (Racanelli) and Peyton (Brammer), you’re not in the limelight. Now that I’m up there, it feels really good actually.”
When those stars graduated, there was talk that maybe it would be the end of Hockinson’s dominance in the league. Things certainly changed. Hockinson was not a juggernaut on offense in the spring. But the defense was as good as any in Clark County, and the Hawks managed a 5-0 record for their seventh consecutive league title.
“We didn’t have a lot of those big plays (on offense), and it came down to defense,” said Northrup, a defensive back and wide receiver. “Our defense really had to step up, and we did.”
Trailing Columbia River early, Northrup had two interceptions and helped the Hawks get the points on offense for one victory. Against Ridgefield, another defensive contest, with Northrup and the Hawks holding the Spudders to seven points. Ridgefield averaged more than 40 points per game in its other four contests. And in the season finale, Washougal led most of the game before the Hawks shut down the Panthers on defense and rallied for the win. Northrup scored the go-ahead touchdown.
It all has to do with the belief system at Hockinson.
“It’s definitely never letting our heads hang,” Northrup said. “We are down (on the scoreboard) sometimes, but we never let our heads down and give up on a game. We’re always constantly going. In the first half, if we’re (trailing), in the second half, we’re coming back 10 times stronger.”
Don’t expect that to change at Hockinson. Two-time state champion coach Rick Steele resigned after the Washougal game in the spring. LeCount has taken over the program.
“For sure, still the same Hockinson expectations,” Northrup said. “He took that position, and he’s just rolling with it. Every practice is the same energy. Definitely the same Hockinson.”
LeCount said he appreciates that the rest of the coaching staff remained with the Hawks, helping to ease the transition.
It also helps, the coach said, to have so many returning players. Most of that dominating defense is back. The quarterback is back. And so is Mr. Do Everything, Andre Northrup.
“He’s one of those quiet leaders. Not a real vocal guy. But when he does speak up, everybody pauses and listens. It means a lot,” LeCount said.
Then came the compliment that means so much more than just what Northrup can do on the field.
“He’s a better person than he is a football player,” LeCount said. “An amazing young man. Works hard at school, a great student, and really, everyone responds to him well.”
All-around talent on and off the field, that’s Northrup, who had five interceptions and five receiving touchdowns in the five-game spring season.
Now, Northrup and the rest of the seniors have one more go with this football program.
“People are going to underestimate us this year, so I just want to prove to them that Hockinson football is still Hockinson football,” Northrup said. “We’re going to make it far.”