Hallandale’s football team found out Friday that star receiver, return man and backup quarterback Neru N’Shaka was lost for the season, a victim of a torn ACL in his right knee.
As crushing as that might be for some teams, few have the depth the Chargers do.
Hallandale, ranked second in the Class 5A state poll behind two-time defending champion Plantation American Heritage, rebounded from Friday’s disappointing news by crushing former district rival Dillard 41-14.
Behind quarterback Tyler Huntley’s 291 yards of total offense and four touchdowns, the Chargers (2-0) forced a running clock with four minutes and 31 seconds left in the third quarter.
Huntley, who has an array of weapons including University of Miami commitment Zach Moss in the backfield, threw both of his touchdown passes in the first quarter to his older brother Sam, who a year ago had given up on football.
On Friday, the elder Huntley led the Chargers with five catches for 47 yards and helped fill the shoes of N’Shaka, a University of Virginia commitment.
“It meant a lot to score on both of those,” said Sam, 19, who scored his first varsity touchdown on a pass from his brother last week in a 34-26 win over Cedar Grove (Georgia) in Atlanta. “I’m trying to get good film and trying to get in the end zone, score points for my team.
“I’ve got to do something with my life, do something with my talent. Tyler told me we could do big things together if I came back. I’m glad I did.”
Tyler Huntley, committed to Utah, guided the Chargers right down the field and into the end zone on an eight-play, 75-yard opening drive. He found Sam in the flat, who turned up field and scored from 12 yards out only 1 minute 46 seconds into the game.
Five minutes later, the Huntleys made it 14-0 when Tyler scrambled to his left, threw across his body and hit Sam, who was diving, on a 6-yard scoring strike.
“We never got much of a chance to play together on the same team growing up because he was always in the heavier pounds and older teams, but we used to play catch all the time in the yard,” said Tyler, who finished 18 of 24 for 188 yards passing and ran three times for 103 yards and two scores.
“I just told him ‘Good job, stay humble, there’s more to come.’ ”
Tyler (6-2, 185) had more to come himself. He showed his array of talents after those touchdown passes by taking off on a 60-yard touchdown run to make it 20-0 with 1:32 left in the first quarter.
Dillard’s Anthony Hasan eventually trimmed the deficit to 20-6 when he connected with Abdul Leiba on a 25-yard scoring strike with 11:28 to go in the half. But even after Dillard’s James Jackson picked off Huntley moments later at the Dillard 35, the Panthers could do nothing with it.
Moss eventually made it 28-6 with a 3-yard touchdown run before Huntley scored on a 15-yard scamper with 55 seconds to go in the half. Moss, who finished with 102 yards rushing on 14 attempts, forced the running clock when he barreled over four Dillard defenders on a 5-yard scamper with 4:31 to play in the third.
“When we lost Neru, I knew the other guys were going to step up behind him,” Moss said. “It was a grind-it-out night for me. That D-line definitely didn’t let anything go easy. I knew I had to work for my yards and I took what they gave me.”
Hallandale will have time to heal a couple of other injuries sustained in Georgia.
They have a bye week next week before hosting Stranahan on Sept. 18. Sophomore receiver Akeem Hayes (hamstring) and senior cornerback Andrew Hines (ankle) should be back the week after that when the Chargers host nationally ranked and defending Class 7A state champion St. Thomas Aquinas.
“We’ve gotten better,” said coach Dameon Jones, whose team went 10-1 last season and was eliminated from the playoffs by Class 6A state champion Miami Central. “But we’ve still got work to do.”