HUNT, SENIORS DEDICATED TO STRONG SEASON FOR DELTA FOOTBALL
By DOUG ZALESKI
Delta football coach Chris Overholt came upon a sight last spring that he wasn’t expecting to see.
On a bicycle ride with his daughters in April, he spotted a group of his players working out in a throwing session in a large field in his neighborhood.
Quarterback Brady Hunt, who unbeknownst to Overholt, had gathered several other Eagle skill position players for multiple workouts each week in that field.
IHSAA rules for offseason workouts prevented Overholt from even going over to say hello to his players, but the fact that he could see they were devoting time four months before the first game of the 2020 season to become as good as they could made him smile.
“That starts with (Hunt) and organizing that with our receivers,” Overholt said. “It was good to see those guys getting ready for the season, and Brady found some trust with them because of how they worked.
“It’s what we expect from that senior class. We knew we had to have an incredible senior class to get us through this kind of adversity … with quarantines and other and restrictions. We knew the kids were going to come in in some kind of shape, and mentally that they’d be ready to play football.”
That’s been the case so far this season for the Eagles. With Hunt and 21 other seniors on the roster, they’ve opened with three strong performances while posting a 3-0 record. They began with a 42-28 victory at Eastbrook, a Class 2A state finalist the past two seasons.
Delta, ranked 8th in Class 4A, blasted Shelbyville 68-0 in its second game and earned a hard-fought 14-7 triumph against arch-rival Yorktown last week. The Eagles’ toughest test of the early season will come Friday night when they play host to Class 4A No. 1 Mt. Vernon.
“They’re solid,” Hunt said. “Hopefully we can do our thing. In weeks 1 and 2 we played to our standard, but last week we played down a little bit. Rivalry games are always going to be close, and to be in a game like that prepares you for adversity.”
Hunt has been preparing for this opportunity his entire life. He began playing youth flag football in the Metro League, advanced to tackle football in third grade, and continued on into middle school at Delta.
He always played quarterback and relishes that opportunity with the Eagles, especially after moving from quarterback to receiver as a freshman as Zach Garner played quarterback.
Hunt was coming off an injury as an 8th grader, and Overholt didn’t want his young quarterback of the future to be thrust into the position as a freshman. So Hunt played receiver and had a modest 6 receptions for 55 yards.
“I wanted to get him on the field and feel a Friday night game without having to put the spotlight on him as a freshman,” Overholt said. “He was our No. 3 receiver, and we let him block and run routes and see the speed of the game.”
After that season, Hunt went to Overholt and told his coach, “I want to play quarterback. I want to get back there in the saddle.” Those words were exactly what Overholt wanted to hear.
“For him to look me in the eyes and say, “I want to be the guy,’ I never felt like I’d have to go back from that,” Overholt said. “I felt I could push him as hard as I wanted to.”
The results have been great. Hunt has been the Delta quarterback three straight years, helping the Eagles compile a 17-7 record in that time.
Hunt has been playing sports since he was old enough to walk. He tagged along as a kid with his brother, Jared, who is four years older. Playing with older kids only made him better.
“I feel like I had an advantage in my childhood with that,” he said. “I took what I learned and carried it over to keep working hard. When I was little, I’d get pretty angry when I lost. Even in the back yard, I never took any loss lightly. Everything was important to me. That added to my development as an athlete.”
That’s one of the reasons Hunt has taken on a stronger leadership role for the Eagles this season. He admits to being more of a leader by example in years past, but he’s focused on being more vocal this year.
“In practice I can see when guys are starting to drag, and I try to lift them up, getting going, and finishing out,” he said. “If we can get everybody playing at a high level, we’ll be all right.”
Overholt sees a different style leader, too.
Overholt had a conversation with his juniors after last season and impressed upon them that as seniors this year they had to lead the team. Coaches manage the team and seniors drive the team, he told them. Players have rallied behind that mantra this season.
Hunt’s improvement this year also includes a stronger feel for the finer points of the game.
“Over the weekend, he’ll text me and ask “Hey, what about this?” or he’ll come to weightlifting and say, “I see this guy falls off with motion,’ ” Overholt said. “He’s really developed into a student of the game.
“Even on a Tuesday when things are a little more chaotic with install and everything else, he’ll catch things in verbage … even things that I miss. He doesn’t even correct me any more; he just calls it right. The game has really slowed down for him.”
Hunt’s progress earned him a scholarship offer from Ball State, and he accepted it last winter when Cardinals head coach Mike Neu and offensive coordinator Kevin Lynch showed up at Delta one day to present their offer to him.
Lynch texted Hunt that morning saying he was coming to Delta to talk with him, but the quarterback didn’t know Neu would be there, too. Hunt walked into Overholt’s office and said he was “kind of in shock” when the offer was made.
“I didn’t know what to say at first, but I couldn’t wait to get home and tell my family,” Hunt said.
He also was offered a chance to play college basketball at Indiana Wesleyan, but he’s been focused more strongly on football the past three years after previously considering basketball his top sport.
“As I put more work into basketball (before), I didn’t get burned out, but I was ready for something else,” he said. “That’s when my view shifted to football. Football is a different culture. It feels like all your brothers are with you, and physically they’re always there with you and always have your back. I really enjoy that.”