When it comes to kickoff returns for Westhampton’s Dylan Laube, it might just be one-and-done.
Teams had avoided kicking to the 5-11, 175-pound junior through the Hurricanes’ first three games. But on the opening kickoff of last Friday night’s game against Islip, Laube raced 95 yards for a touchdown. “That was the first week that anyone kicked to him and I’m sure it will be the last,” Westhampton coach Bill Parry said.
Said Laube, “I was waiting for that one chance. The ball came to the left. I made a cut and went upfield and I was gone. There was great blocking, too.”
So while Laube may no longer get any more special-team opportunities, he is in the midst of a very special season. Laube leads Long Island with 1,001 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns and is the major reason the Hurricanes are 4-0 and tied with Sayville for first place in Suffolk III.
In addition to his kickoff return for a touchdown, Laube torched Islip for 186 yards rushing and three more touchdowns, including a 53-yard run. For that performance, Laube was named Newsday’s Athlete of the Week.
And the truth is, Laube could’ve easily received the award in any of the previous weeks, in which his rushing yardage totals were 216, a school-record 307 (with five TDs) and 292. Most of those yards were gained between the tackles. He averages 14.5 yards per carry and 11 of his TD runs have been 40 yards or longer. “Every play I go all out. It’s always been instinct with me. I’ve been able to see the hole and just hit it hard,” Laube said.
The holes aren’t always huge, either, as Westhampton began the season with an inexperienced offensive line. “The holes aren’t that big but he’s making cuts and he seems to always go in right direction,” Parry said. “He’s very strong and he sees the whole field.”
Laube, only the third junior in 20 years to be elected a Westhampton captain, is passionate about football, even though his modest size has kept him from receiving a lot of attention from college recruits. He runs the 40 in 4.56 and Parry believes he can “easily put on 20 pounds next year. He was only 150 pounds last year.”
Weight aside, Laube has the other attributes necessary to play in college: good speed, exceptional quickness and cutting ability, good hands (he is a dangerous receiver out of the backfield) and an enviable work ethic.
He is an accomplished lacrosse player who fit in arduous football-related workouts around his lacrosse schedule last spring. A typical week included two lacrosse games, four practices plus the football component — two or three speed workouts a week before school and two or three weight-training sessions either before or after lacrosse practice.
“I looked at it as a great opportunity to improve,” Laube said. “I enjoyed it.”