Justice Futch keeps waiting for his 15 minutes of fame to end, but footage of last week’s 46-yard touchdown run keeps popping up on the Internet.
There he is exploding through the line of scrimmage, barreling over one Summerville defender and then dragging another about 10 yards before breaking free for the score.
The coaches tell me all the time, lower your shoulder and if someone wants to step in your way … punish them. I like to think that I can’t be tackled one-on-one, and I play with that mindset.
Justice Futch, Hughson senior fullback
Hughson won its fourth straight game to start the season and has moved quickly up The Bee’s small-school rankings, but all anyone can talk about is the run.
“I keep waiting for it to die down and then it comes up again the next day. Literally everyone I’ve talked to, the conversation is always about the run,” Futch said. “It’s cool getting all this attention from it, but I’m just trying not to get a big head. One play isn’t the whole season. I’m just trying to stay focused on that.”
For now, though, the eyes of the Web world remain transfixed by Futch, who has become a viral sensation. His highlight was originally posted to Hudl and eventually shared by MaxPreps, The Modesto Bee, USA Today and ESPN, among others. By Friday morning, it had more than 242,000 views and 8,000 shares. (Click here to see the video)
A high school football coach in Texas called Hughson High Principal Debra Davis to learn more about the school, the player and the play. The coach told Davis that Futch’s run was being used as a motivational tool.
“We all say he’s famous now,” Hughson tackle Kyle Harp said. “We joke with him, but we all know he deserves this.”
So who is this kid, the one being compared to a runaway train?
Futch is a 5-foot-11, 235-pound fullback and linebacker who plays with the destructive force of a battering ram. He helped guide the Huskies to a Trans-Valley League title as a freshman and then earned a call-up to varsity as a sophomore.
He transferred to Central Catholic after the football season, but was deemed ineligible by the Sac-Joaquin Section as a junior after transferring back to his hometown Huskies.
His passion for sport and school grew in his absence from the spotlight. Futch, who admits he left Hughson and lifelong teammates to chase selfish dreams at Central Catholic, no longer puts himself before the team.
The footage of Justice Futch’s 46-yard touchdown run has more than 242,000 views and 8,000 shares, thanks to MaxPreps, USA Today, ESPN and other national media news services. The Hughson fullback ran over one Summerville defender and dragged another on his way to the end zone.
Hughson has hopes of returning to TVL and section prominence this fall. Head coach Reyn Franca has come out of retirement to lead a senior-laden group that finished 8-4 and reached the second round of the Division IV playoffs in 2014. Franca won four section titles in a previous stint at Hughson.
“We think we can go far. We’re in one of the toughest leagues in our division, so no matter what it’s going to be a dogfight,” said Futch, who rushed for 262 yards and four TDs in the first three games. “We’re going to play hard. We’re not going to let the spotlight get to us.
“We’ve been playing together for a long time. We’ve been successful together a long time. We want to change what’s been going on here. We want to be the ones to bring back that winning tradition.”
Franca certainly has confidence in his boys.
After all, he left the offense on the field on fourth-and-inches near midfield early in the fourth quarter.
He called “Wedge,” Hughson’s short-yardage play, but he was really asking for the battering ram. The play is designed to leave Futch one-on-one with a linebacker. Instead, Summerville blitzed its linebackers, leaving Futch alone with the last man – an undersized safety.
“I weigh 235 pounds and move a lot faster than most big guys you see. The coaches tell me all the time, lower your shoulder and if someone wants to step in your way … punish them,” he said. “I like to think that I can’t be tackled one-on-one, and I play with that mindset.”
235 Hughson fullback Justice Futch’s weight
Another defensive back grabbed hold of Futch’s jersey around the 39 and didn’t fall off until about the 29. The would-be tackler slid on his knees another two yards – a testament to Futch’s towing strength.
“I’ve seen people knock the crap out of someone, but I’ve never seen someone dragged like that so that they couldn’t catch up,” Harp said. “It was an amazing moment. I was freaking out. The guy is an animal.”
Futch credits his offensive line for occupying the linemen and linebackers and creating the favorable matchups at the second level. Hughson’s offensive line is anchored by center Logan Novotny. He’s flanked by guards Adrian Rivera and Bryce Gonzales, and tackles Michael Stewart and Harp.
“I’ve tried to tell people, my offensive line opened the hole, my coach called the play,” Futch said. “I just did my job and went to get the short yards and it turned into more.”