WINSTON-SALEM – Elijah Hood stood at midfield a short time after his team received its state runners-up trophy and looked around Wake Forest University’s BB&T Field. The star Charlotte Catholic fullback certainly will have the opportunity to play in stadiums this big – or bigger – in the coming years, as he’s one of the top college recruits in the Southeast.
At the moment, though, Hood had trouble thinking about that because the pain of the Cougars’ 64-26 loss to Northern Guilford in the Class 3AA state title game was extremely fresh.
But just as he had during a record-breaking junior season, when he rushed for new Mecklenburg County standards of 3,317 yards and 48 touchdowns, Hood powered on.
“I like to keep everything in perspective,” he said. “We did lose this game and it does hurt, but I also like to focus on the positive things, and I’m just going to remember the fact that I had a pretty good game and earned (Charlotte Catholic’s) Outstanding Offensive Player Award (for the game).
“I had a pretty good season. It obviously didn’t end the way that I wanted it to, and that definitely stings. But I think I’ll be able to reflect back on it later on and realize how good it was in due time. But right now, it’s a tough loss.”
Throughout the season, many considered Hood the state’s top running back, and the eye-popping 1,300 yards he amassed in the playoffs alone added to that sentiment. But Northern Guilford senior T.J. Logan, stole the show in the final game, rushing for championship records of 510 yards and eight touchdowns.
“He was lighting it up,” Hood said of Logan. “All you can do is try to go out there and try to respond.”
Hood did his part, rushing for 157 yards and two touchdowns on 34 carries. After the game, Northern Guilford coach Johnny Roscoe sought out Hood, ran over to him and whispered into the fullback’s ear.
“He just said I was an outstanding player and that I have a future,” Hood said. “That’s a big compliment.”
Hood now turns his attention to the monumental task of selecting his future college. A number of colleges remain in the mix. Before the game, he had scholarship offers from Clemson, Duke, North Carolina, South Carolina, N.C. State, Michigan, Stanford, Virginia, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest. In the days since, Ohio State and Notre Dame had extended invitations.
“I definitely have to turn my attention to recruiting,” he said. “I’ve got to make that choice so I don’t have to have all that in my head my senior year. But I don’t know when I’ll make (a decision).
“Right now, this loss is motivating me. I see this as a reason to work harder. Last year, we didn’t get to this stage, so I see how we improved. All we’ve got to do now is what we did this year, and then just do a little bit more so we can get that ring.
That’s all I’m thinking about. It’s really tough for the seniors because they don’t have another year. But I do, so I’m going to focus on that.”