Instinct is not taught. Vision is a gift. Speed can be improved, but changing direction in full gear is only for those with a special skill set.
Meet Westhampton halfback Dylan Laube, a combination of speed and power, with a unique running style that finds a crack in the defense and ultimately open space.
“There are few runners that have the ability to slow the play down and make the kind of moves that most are not capable of making,” said Westhampton coach Bill Parry. “Dylan is a special runner in every way. He runs over people, around people and makes adjustments when he sees what’s developing in front of him.”
Laube emerged as one of Long Island’s most exciting runners last year as a junior. He wants the encore to exceed the premiere. He scored 40 touchdowns, including four by kick return, and totaled 2,152 yards on the ground. His opening act this season was electric. Laube scored four touchdowns and rushed for 262 yards on 29 carries Friday night as the Hurricanes erased a 17-point deficit to defeat Bellport, 42-38, Friday night.
“Dylan can take it to the end zone on any carry,” said Westhampton fullback Liam McIntyre. “He uses whatever crease our line gives him to his full advantage. He leaves a lot of people shaking their heads when he breaks tackles in those long runs.”
Laube’s big play capability allowed him to score 11 touchdowns last year on runs of more than 45 yards. And he wants more. He trained in the off season to increase his speed and agility and hit the weight room to add another 18 pounds of muscle.
The extra weight with help him absorb the punishment from the workload that comes with 20-25 carries a game. The increase in speed will help him breakaway from the secondary more often.
“He had carries where he shredded tacklers in the open field,” McIntyre said. “Once he gets through the initial line he’s a beast at the next level. And add the refusal to go down and Dylan is the best runner around.”
Laube, a Newsday All Long Island selection, committed to play football at New Hampshire next fall. Former Hansen Award winner Dalton Crossan of Sachem North had a fine career at New Hampshire before signing as a free agent with the Indianapolis Colts this spring. Laube hopes to follow the same path.
“The main focus is taking it one game, actually one play at a time,” Laube said. “All my life I’ve been underestimated and I like to prove people wrong. I’m sure plenty of people out there feel last year a fluke for me. It’s motivating to know there are non-believers.”
Laube points to his offensive line which he said, “is very big and moves well.”
“The line has worked hard in the off-season and Liam and I feel we have a special 1-2 punch,” Laube said. “I’m betting Liam will have a breakout year and we’ll do well. We put in the time all year round to make this year memorable.”
Westhampton is the thick of a Suffolk Division III that is loaded with talent. Half Hollow Hills West, East Islip and Sayville are also top contenders for the county crown.
“We have a leader in Dylan on and off the field,” Parry said. “He’s been a leader since the eighth grade. Dylan makes everyone right – especially when there’s nowhere to run and he pops a 40-yarder. His hips, vision and cutback ability are exceptional. He’s not a two-way player. He’s a three way guy but teams won’t even kick his way because he’s so dangerous.”
Laube said there are expectations and pressure to win in his small town but he’ll enjoy his final season.
“The whole town comes out for our games and the atmosphere is awesome,” Laube said. “There’s excitement about our program and the support is unbelievable.”
And he’s capable of putting on a great show.