Linebacker among Tigers still working to improve for 2012

Published 8:36 pm Tuesday, October 18, 2011

You could understand if Richard Hilliard took off a few plays, a game, or even the rest of the season.

Hilliard is a stalwart on Chilton County’s offense and defense, but the Tigers have been eliminated from playoff contention and Hilliard has been nursing a sore shoulder since the beginning of the season.

Instead, Hilliard, The Clanton Advertiser’s Player of the Week, keeps improving, setting an example for a group of players that next season will be looking for more wins on the field.

“It would be easy to drop your head and count the days down to when the season is over,” coach Donnie Hand said of his first Tigers team, whose record stands at 2-6. “The seniors have done a good job of keeping everybody fired up for the season, and the younger guys have gotten better, knowing they’ll be back next year.”

Opponents may cringe at the thought of Hilliard getting better. In last week’s 41-12 win at Wilcox Central, the junior recorded 17 tackles, tying his season high from the previous week.

Hilliard has 114 tackles on the season, an average of more than 14 per game and easily the most among Chilton County area players—despite that nagging injury.

“You’ve got to have a little bit of fortitude, a little guts, to play football,” Hand said. “But then to do what he’s doing every play, that’s big.”

Defense is Hilliard’s primary job, but he also helps spell starting running back Michael Seaton. Hilliard has rushed 47 times this season for 232 yards—an average of 4.9 yards per carry—and two touchdowns.

“He has a feel for the game that you can’t really coach,” Hand said. “It comes natural to him.”