Moody, Singleton, Crumley shine for 'Dogs

By Jamie Combs
SPORTS EDITOR
jcombs@starhq.com
If Hampton coach J.C. Campbell had a nickel for every defensive stop made this year by seniors Sean Moody, Donny Singleton and Dustin Crumley, he could treat himself to an all-you-can-eat buffet. Make it two nickels per stop, and he's having T-bone steak.
Never considered higher than mid-level players before this season, Moody, Singleton and Crumley have been feeling the warm glow of success in 2003, each ranking in the top five on the team in tackles. They've combined for 183 stops.


Donny Singleton

"We kind of expect everybody to do their thing," said Campbell. "If the ball comes in their area, we kind of expect them to make the play. But all three of these boys can run, and they're able to get to the ball when it may not come their way."
Beginning his career as a defensive end, then switching to linebacker at the start of this season, Moody is flourishing at a position he hadn't played since elementary ball.
"It was pretty hard to get down," Moody said of the linebacker position. "It had been so long since I played it."
Moody was obviously a good study, because he's racked up a team-high 76 tackles this year. That's quite an accomplishment for an athlete who's had his share of being injured and stuck on the sidelines.


Sean Moody

"It just took me a while to get over my injuries," said Moody, who has 122 career tackles. "With my knee and everything, it's good getting to play a whole season."
Injuring a knee near the end of a promising sophomore campaign, Moody went through postseason surgery and was back on the field by the start of his junior year. However, he reinjured the knee shortly into the 2002 season, and had to be shelved for the rest of the year -- an experience that was particularly tough on the player.
"It was pretty bad," said Moody, who was forced to have another knee surgery. "I tried to come out too early and I got hurt. I was trying to help the team, but it didn't do me any good."
Moody has certainly spent his senior year making up for lost time.
After harvesting a respectable 41 stops as a junior, Singleton has watched his production in that category balloon nicely this year, with his 58 tackles tying him for second place on the team.
Asked how that makes him feel, Singleton said: "It makes me feel great. That's what my goal was for this year -- to get more tackles."
Furthermore, Singleton is leading the 'Dogs in quarterback sacks with 3.5, surpassing his 2002 total of 3.0.
"I use my quickness and just go after the quarterback as hard as I can," he said.
A player who didn't appear to be oozing with potential early on in his career, Singleton (110 career tackles) has improved by leaps and bounds during his years as a Bulldog, turning himself into a rock solid performer.
His development on the gridiron, he says, can be attributed to a simple formula.
"Just trying hard and respecting the seniors who came before me," said Singleton, "and trying to do my best."
Breaking into the lineup as a cornerback in his sophomore season, then going on to become a starter at defensive end, safety and tight end, Crumley has the distinction of being the most experienced and the most versatile of the three aforementioned players.
Defensively, Crumley has switched back and forth between the line and the secondary, something he says has sharpened his performance.
"Playing cornerback my sophomore year and going back and forth has helped me a lot to watch the running backs, see where they're going and figure out what play they're going to run," he said. "I learned to read the quarterback a whole lot better on option plays and stuff like that."
Playing the majority of his defensive snaps at end this year, Crumley is the fifth-leading tackler for the 'Dogs, having made 49 of his 82 career stops.
He also has a pair of quarterback sacks, which came in Hampton's 21-14 midseason victory at Unicoi County.
"I think I've gotten a whole lot better over the years of playing," Crumley said. "This year, I've hit my peak."
Describing how it feels to be one of the top contributors for the 'Dogs this season, Crumley said: "It feels good -- it feels real good."
There's no doubt that Campbell feels good about the results he's received from Crumley, as well as Moody and Singleton.
"They've all improved tremendously," said the coach. "Sean was playing a new position, and hadn't played in two years on account of that old knee. We didn't really know what Sean would do. Donny played pretty tough last year, but now Dustin Crumley has really toughened up."
Their careers soon to be over -- the 'Dogs close out their regular season tonight at South Greene -- the three seniors agree that playing football for Hampton has been worth the effort, and that it's tough to see their playing days coming to an end.
"It's been well worth it -- all the hard work that goes in," said Crumley.
"It's been way worth it," said Singleton.
Added Moody: "I'm going to miss it pretty bad."