There is a difference between perfectionist and never satisfied. Or is there?
Chris Hill has rushed for more than 100 yards in each of the last three games and has scored seven touchdowns in the three latest wins for the Gabriel Richard football team.
The Fighting Irish take a 5-0 record into what should be an easy week six victory against winless Detroit Universal Academy. And a 6-0 record guarantees the green and white a playoff spot.
Richard is undefeated, or in other words, perfect. But Hill, who has been nearly perfect himself in helping lead the way, isn’t satisfied. And maybe a little of that “never satisfied” attitude has been a catalyst for the perfect record.
“I always want more,” says Hill, the outstanding senior running back who uses his combination of speed, quickness and power to punish opposing defenses. “We are pleased with what we’ve done so far but I keep working hard and trying to get better because I’m always looking for more.”
Hill’s season didn’t exactly take off as expected but more because it wasn’t really necessary. He opened the season with eight carries for 52 yards in an easy win over visiting Bridgeport. In fact, teammate Jamison Peoples had 10 carries for 70 yards.
But there was no doubt the Fighting Irish wanted the ball in Hill’s hands. And he has rewarded that trust ever since.
In a blowout win in week two over Burton Bentley, Hill had seven carries for 61 yards and two touchdowns in a game the Fighting Irish dominated from start to finish.
The breakout game came in week three against Macomb Lutheran North when he had 155 yards rushing on 16 carries and a touchdown.
Then, against Loyola the following week, the senior scored three touchdowns in the first quarter and one in the fourth quarter in a 28-15 win over the Bulldogs. He finished the game with 125 yards on 14 carries.
Hill went over 100 yards rushing for the third straight game and scored a couple of touchdowns in the Irish’s 41-6 win last week over Toledo Scott.
Hills says success is earned.
“We not only work hard but work together and I think that’s been a big key for our success this year,” he said. “We give our best effort every time we step on the field.
“We haven’t been turning the ball over on offense and have been creating some turnovers on defense.”
The Fighting Irish have been successful for many reasons through five weeks of the season. One of those keys, according to Hill, has been keeping the number of mental mistakes to a minimum.
“During the off-season when we were practicing if someone jumped off sides or had a false start we would have to run or do exercises,” Hill said. “I think that preparation has helped a lot.”
Hill plays rover on defense, sort of a safety-linebacker position which allows him to use his speed and athletic ability to create havoc all over the field. He already has two interceptions on the year and makes things very difficult on opposing offenses.
Playing both ways can be tiring at times but Hill finds time to catch his breath, and the Fighting Irish have enough depth to give their key players plenty of strength and energy once the fourth quarter rolls around.
“For sure I get tired,” Hill said with a laugh. “But our off-season conditioning really helped and we have guys who step in and do a great job. It’s great to have some depth.”
It’s also great to have a player like Hill on and off the field.
“He’s a great young man,” says Richard head coach Brian Lewis. “He’s very humble and just a great teammate that kids enjoy being around.”
What has helped elevate Hill’s performance on the field has been a result of his preparation, especially before the season kicked off.
“He really worked hard this off season, in the weight room and on the track,” Lewis says. “He has set a great example as a leader of our team. And he understands that nothing is more important than the team which makes him special. He’s fully bought into ‘One Heartbeat’ … I can’t say enough good things about the young man.”
Hill has plenty of good things to say about Lewis and the entire Richard coaching staff.
“It’s been great,” he said. “Everyone is buying into what they are teaching us and want us to do. The coaches are really positive and it’s just been a great atmosphere all season.”
Hill said while the Divine Child game has a circle around it, the Fighting Irish are taking it one game at a time. So far, it’s worked out quite well.
“Yeah, it’s been a one game at a time approach but the Divine Child and UD games are big games and I’m really looking forward to playing both teams,” he said. “And yeah we really want some revenge against Divine Child.”
The Falcons (5-0 this season) beat the Irish 21-10 last year and the two teams meet again on Oct. 6 in Dearborn. The following week, Richard faces U-D Jesuit, a playoff team a year ago but struggling at 1-4 this season.
As a junior, Hill turned 64 carries into 292 yards for a 4.56 yards-per-carry average and three touchdowns. But he was playing behind a senior at the time and had to wait his time, learn and improve – which he did.
“I didn’t get a lot of touches last year,” Hill said. “We had a tough time moving the ball last year.
“I think the biggest difference from last year is how well our offensive line has been playing. They worked really hard and have been doing a great job on their blocking schemes and giving us time to run the plays. Everyone on offense has worked really hard and has taken their game to the next level.”
Hill also competes on the Richard track and field team and was one of the top sprinters in the Catholic League last year. He went 11.3 seconds in the 100 dash to earn All-Catholic and just missed a state-cut time as a junior.
Like many his age, Hill is still trying to figure out which “hill” to climb moving forward. He certainly has some options and his strong showing on the football field may be creating a few more.
“Michigan has always been my dream school and if I went there I would do sports management,” he said. “I’m also looking at the University of Oregon or Eastern Michigan and a few smaller ones like Kalamazoo College.
“I would love to keep playing football so hopefully a door opens there.”
The way things are going a few doors may open. And Hill is always looking for more.