• John Macon Gillespie

Why Not Stephon Huderson?

Petal High School shocked a lot of people in 2015 when they overcame a 3-4 start to the season to plow all the way to a South State Championship. They did so on the back of their junior running back Stephon Huderson.

The 5-9, 185-pound playmaker put up well over 2,000 rushing yards and added over 30 receptions to fuel the Panther offense. When the lights were their brightest, Huderson was at his best. He ran for 254 yards in a comeback when over Laurel. He also totaled 460 yards with four scores in playoff games versus Brandon and Meridian.

The Panthers are now out for spring practices and Huderson says there is a hunger left from coming up short in the 6A Championship a season ago that has created a very high intensity level on the practice field.

The intensity level was high and the guys are enjoying it,” Huderson told SES Mississippi. “We have an older and more experienced team than last year. We only lost four starters on both sides of the ball and those spots that are open are getting competed for by some pretty talented guys.”

Huderson says looking back and comparing his first spring to his final, he knows he has come a long way.

“My first spring training was more of me learning the system and showing the coaches that I was trustworthy with the ball,” Huderson recalls. “I wasn't a voice out there. I was just a freshman trying to impress the coaches and the older guys.”

“Now, I am a veteran to the system and I am the team leader. I'm the voice overall and I coach up the younger guys out there trying to make everyone better around me.”

Huderson really is a special talent. He not only is a great rusher but he is also a great pass catcher. His skill set is rivaled by no other running back in the state.

In a class and position that is dominated by talks of Clinton’s Cam Akers and Columbus’ Kylin Hill, Huderson is often left out of the conversation. The reason for that can be a number of things. It could be that the talent in this 2017 class really is something special and this is just testament to the depth in this great football state. It also could be an exposure thing. At least, that’s the way Huderson sees it.

“It's just an exposure thing,” Huderson explains. “Those guys (Akers and Hill) put themselves out there at a younger age and went to camps and performed and put up great numbers, and I haven't had a chance to do that. Not too long ago I was at a 4A school and didn't know anything about camps until I moved to Petal. You have to give credit where it's due, those guys are great, but I personally should be in the race with them also.”

Only time will tell how things will shape up in 2016. However, at this point in time, one thing is crystal clear. Stephon Huderson is one of, if not the best high school running backs in the state of Mississippi.

**Photo by Keith Warren of the MHSAA.

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