Edgewood's Hall takes record-breaking career into postseason

Oct. 26—It's not often Tony Hall is not be aware of the situation he is in during a game.

When it does happen, though, the Edgewood senior quarterback has a knack for making amends quickly.

Last Friday night against Lakeside in the regular-season finale was the perfect example.

On a third and eight call just across midfield, Hall was flushed from the pocket, tucked the pigskin away and took off straight ahead.

It appeared he would easily get the first down, until he slid three yards shy of the mark.

"I didn't even realize it was third down," Hall said of his decision to slide. "I usually never slide because I enjoy making contact with the defender. When I went to the sideline, I told the coach, I was not aware of the situation. He said, 'Ok, let's regroup and go to the next play.'"

On the next play, Hall more than amended his mental error.

The call from the sideline was an option play designed to make sure they pick up 3 yards. instead Hall, dialed up Jacob Ernst for a 43-yard touchdown pass.

"As quarterback, all the pressure is on you," Hall said. "Whether you do something wrong, or do something right, you're going to hear about it. When he said let's go for it, I decided to make the best of it. Let's either get the first down or let's score.

Hall will lead the Warriors back into the state playoffs on Friday, as Edgewood plays at Niles McKinley in a battle of 6-4 teams during a Division IV, Region 13 first-round game. The Warriors are a No. 10 seed, while the Red Dragons are seventh.

Since taking over under center as a sophomore, Hall has etched his name into not only Edgewood record book, but also the Ashtabula Cunty one as well.

Through 10 games, he has thrown for 2,492 yards and 31 touchdowns, both which are county records for a single season.

He is also the new county leading passer with 5,455 yards and 61 TDs.

Getting thrown into action after the third week of his sophomore season, Warriors coach Olajuwon Cooper said he could not have projected the type of success Hall would have over the three years. But he certainly knew he had the potential.

"You can never foresee that type of production, but you can foresee that a kid has the intangibles, he has everything you're looking for," Cooper said.

More importantly, though, the coach believes what helps Hall more than anything is his cerebral approach to the game.

"Tony's strongest attribute is his mind, from the aspect of what he's willing to do to get better, " Cooper said. "We knew he had talent, arm talent, but there's more to playing quarterback than just a great arm.

"You have to be able to play from up top and I think that is where Tony has grown the most. How he understands defenses and how he can manipulate defenses with his eyes and with pre-snap motion, that's where he has grown exponentially with just his understanding of the game."

That understanding the coach speaks of is why Hall has the freedom to make decisions, like the one he did against Lakeside, that swung the momentum in the game.

"We call the play, but what Tony sees is not necessarily what we call," Cooper said. "We called a play based on the personnel. We called a play to get the first down.

"But Tony saw they were sitting on a hitch route that comes out of stack receiver formation. So, it really was a call between him and Jacob."

Allowing his players to make game changing decisions is something that Cooper said is a big part of building the relationship between coach and players.

"He has that type of creative freedom when he sees mismatches," Cooper said. "There are situations where you can infuse your trust in the kids. But there is no better way to show your kids you trust them than to be risking it in those situations.

"It was a huge moment, but the way that we executed in that moment speaks to our execution and the trust we have in our guys.

That trust will once again be put to the test on Friday night.

The Red Dragons have a run-heavy offense led by running back Antuan Gardener, who has has 1,764 yards rushing and 23 TDs so far this season.

Cooper said they have several other good athletes on the field, but the coach also believes that his group matches up real well against them.

He also knows that a year ago was a new experience for his program in the postseason. This year, they are ready to advance to the next step.

"The football gods smiled on us," the coach said. "They're a quality football team, but we think we match up well with them. Last year we were just happy to be in the playoffs. This year we expect to go there and win a football game."

He's not the only one expecting to win.

"Í don't think there's anyone on our team that doesn't believe that we'r going to win on Friday," Hall said. "I think the goal is to get the first playoff win in school history and see how far we can take it from there."