Hampton's Waycaster making presence felt on both sides of ball

Justin Waycaster

By Jamie Combs
Sports Editor
A player who runs straight into the teeth of the defense every time he touches the football, Hampton fullback Justin Waycaster has already left a couple of cavities along the way.
A senior showing no signs of being a first-year varsity runner, Waycaster has bulled his way to a team-leading 198 yards on the ground while sporting a healthy 5.8 per-carry average.
"He's pretty fast and he's strong," said Hampton coach J.C. Campbell. "He's sort of been a good, welcome surprise there. Sometimes they just ain't going to let you run to the tailback. Teams will set to stop something, and you've got to have something else to go to."
Hampton certainly hasn't hesitated to hand the ball to its fullback over the last two games, and the results have been excellent.
Waycaster, who carried only three times for six yards in the team's season opener, at Cloudland, made his presence felt in the Knox Catholic game by rushing 14 times for 90 yards and a touchdown. He followed that up with a 17-carry, 102-yard showing at Johnson County this past Friday night.
"I knew I could do it, but I didn't think I could do it as well as I have," Waycaster said of handling the fullback duties. "But the line has blocked well."
Waycaster's shining moment against Johnson County came when he ran for a two-point conversion late in the game, accounting for the winning score in an 8-7 come-from-behind Hampton win. For an instant it looked like Waycaster would be stopped on the play, but he was man enough to get the ball across the goal line.
"I just stuck my head down and kept on driving," he said.
For his performance in the Johnson County game -- he also totaled nine tackles from his strong safety position -- Waycaster was honored on Wednesday as the Tri-Cities Nissan/Elizabethton STAR Player of the Week.
"That's by far the best all-around game I've ever had," he said.
Playing very little offense for Hampton before this season, Waycaster has been a defensive starter for most of his Bulldog career, spending almost all of his time in the secondary.
Waycaster started off his career as a good cover cornerback; however, it's his tackling ability that now draws positive reviews.
Tied for the team lead in tackles with 25, Waycaster made the move this season to strong safety and found the position to be to his liking.
"I like it better the way we're playing it this year," said Waycaster. "I kind of run like a monster back. I like that playing up with the linebackers."
Part of Waycaster's overall success is, without a doubt, taking great pride in how he plays the sport.
"I try to do my best at everything," he said, "and give 100 percent on every play."
According to Campbell, Waycaster has gone from being a solid role player a year ago to being a spearhead in the Bulldog attack.
"His whole attitude has changed this year from last," Campbell said. "Instead of following around with somebody else, he's kind of stepping up and being a little more of a leader. It's showing on the field, too. He played awful well the other night (vs. Johnson County). Justin has practiced well."
Added Hampton assistant coach Scotty Bunton: "If we've got a team leader out there, it's probably him."
With the season only three games old for the 'Dogs, Waycaster knows there's still plenty more work to be done.
Asked what kind of goals he has in mind for the team and himself, he said: "I'd like to win the conference as a team. I just hope I can keep doing my job, and doing the best I can."