Prep Football: Kennedy's Hillyer Having Standout Senior Season

By Jeff Johnson, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — There will be multiples. Perhaps some double fudges and a vanilla or two.

He won't bake them himself, though that would be kind of cool. The guess is Hy-Vee will get his business for this.

Alex Hillyer has had a great season running the football for Cedar Rapids Kennedy. His 231 carries are the most of any Class 4A player, his 1,441 yards second.

That's a school record, by the way, which leads to the cakes he has promised his offensive linemen. Gotta take care of the guys who open all the holes for you.

"I remember walking into the weight room one day over the summer," Hillyer said. "(Assistant) Coach (Matt) Miers was there, and he asked me how good 1,500 yards sounded this season. I thought 'Yeah, that'd be pretty nice.' I didn't really have a number in mind, but I told the line that one."

A mere 59 yards tonight in Kennedy's 4A postseason opener at Muscatine will get Hillyer to that magic number. It's a good one, especially for a guy who has had to work to get healthy.

Chronic hamstring issues that began last spring during track season have dogged Hillyer. Kennedy head coach Tim Lewis wouldn't let him go completely full bore in preseason practice and wouldn't let him play defense (a hybrid linebacker-safety position) until a couple of games into the season.

Eventually kick returns became part of the deal, too. Hillyer figures he's not in the game for only around 10 plays or so now.

"He's an extremely hard worker that takes very good care of his body," Lewis said. "You know when he says he's hurt, he's hurt. A lot of kids would have tried to jump right in there during two-a-days. Had he done that, I don't think we'd have him right now."

"I'm sore every now and then," Hillyer said. "But as much as I'm out there on the field, I've held up pretty well. You hear guys with pulled musclres or broken bones and things. I haven't had to deal with any of that."

Hillyer has been able to put up good rushing numbers despite opposing defenses knowing how much he's going to be getting the football. He had 216 yards and three touchdowns on 31 carries last week against Iowa City High, as Kennedy (4-5) ended the regular season with its fourth consecutive win.

The Cougars are underdogs tonight against Muscatine (7-2), but you kind of have a feeling they've got a legitimate chance at an upset.

"We started out slow, but we're on a roll now," Hillyer said. "It was hard to do at the time, but we really just tried not to worry or panic after we lost our first five games. We knew if we worked hard, it would turn around."

It did, thanks in large part to him. Hillyer said he doesn't know what level, but he wants to play college football next year.

Lewis sees him as a defensive back if he tries the upper levels because he's only 5-foot-9 and doesn't have elite speed. He'd be a good running back if he went the Iowa Conference route, the coach said.

"I definitely just wanted to help the team the best as I could this season, and I think I've been able to do that," Hillyer said. "The offensive line has been great. It helps a lot when they're out there pancaking guys. I wouldn't say I'm satistied with everything because I want to win a state championship, get as far as we can in the playoffs."

"He's been a coach's dream," Lewis said. "He's a great kid, a leader who works hard. No question we want the ball in his hands."
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