PREP FOOTBALL

Tipton offense revolves around dual-threat quarterback Hooker

2013-11-19T17:00:00Z 2013-11-20T02:06:11Z Tipton offense revolves around dual-threat quarterback HookerJim Peters james.peters@nwi.com, (219) 548-4363 nwitimes.com
November 19, 2013 5:00 pm  • 

It's hard to under-value what Austin Hooker means to the Tipton offense.

Aaron Rodgers' importance to the Packers might be a fair comparison.

"To be totally honest, our entire offense revolves around him," Blue Devils coach Aaron Tolle said. "We've won four sectionals with him at the helm."

Sidelined by a broken forearm, the 220-pound dual threat didn't play in Week 4 when host Rensselaer edged Tipton 9-7 on a fourth-quarter field goal by Luke Robertson.

Hooker's absence coincided with a brutal three-game stretch where the Blue Devils also lost to West Lafayette, which is playing in the 3A semistate, and Lafayette Central Catholic, which won the last four A state titles.

Tipton managed just one touchdown in each game.

Since Hooker's return, Tipton has won seven in a row, highlighted by a 28-24 victory over Central Catholic in the sectional semifinals. The thriller has been the Blue Devils' only serious challenge en route to Friday's Class 2A Northern Semistate against visiting Rensselaer.

"He's basically a fullback who can throw 60 yards," Tolle said of Hooker, who has thrown for over 7,600 career yards. "He puts defenses in a bind. Defenses are wanting to put more guys in the box but they can't afford to.

"In a lot of cases, it makes them pick their poison. That said, Rensselaer has an outstanding defense. It'll be a real chess match."

A balanced Tipton passing attack averages over 150 yards a game with Hooker under center. He operates behind a massive line led by 6-foot-4, 270-pound D-I prospect Luke Shively.

The unit has over 12 seasons of varsity starts among them, paving the way for 1,400-yard rusher Nate Hein.

"They get off the ball really well," Tolle said. "They're able to make adjustments. I've never had a more experienced group."

Tolle took over for his father Mike in 2004 and saw the Blue Devils bow out in the regjonal the last three years, each time losing to eventual state champion Fort Wayne Luers.

With Luers no longer in 2A, Tipton obliterated Oak Hill 56-2 last week while Rensselaer blanked Bremen 24-0.

"It's definitely a seasoned group," Tolle said. "They've been in big games. We've got two-, three-sport athletes, kids who have played in basketball semistates.

"I don't think they can be more prepared for a situation. They won't be intimidated by the atmosphere."

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