O’Brien: Small and strong, Hubbard’s Joshua Land can fly

SHARE O’Brien: Small and strong, Hubbard’s Joshua Land can fly

Hubbard’s Joshua Land (28) runs the ball against Raby. | Patrick Gleason/For the Sun-Times.

Hubbard running back Joshua Land is a well-known threat around the city, but he believed he had plenty to prove when the season started back in November.

“Everything was depending on me having a big year,” Land said. “[In the past] I didn’t have the seasons I wanted. This was my senior year so I left it all out there.”

It’s safe to say that very few players around the state spent more time in the end zone than the Greyhounds’ senior. Land scored six touchdowns in Hubbard’s 39-0 win against Raby in the first round of the Public League playoffs on Thursday at Gately. That gives him 31 touchdowns so far this season.

“He’s a great player, a lot of schools say he’s small,” Hubbard coach Elton Harris said.

Land, at 5-8, 176 pounds, is small. But he’s lightning fast and surprisingly strong. He says Oregon and San Diego State are his two most likely college destinations.

“I’m just trying to stay humble now and help my teammates realize the ability they have,” Land said.

Land had 21 carries for 132 yards. The Greyhounds (7-2) depend on him for the majority of their offense. They attempted (and completed) only two passes in the game. Hubbard’s defense is rock solid, it has allowed only 65 points in the last seven games. The Greyhounds lost to Evanston 28-13 in Week 1 and then ripped off six consecutive wins before losing to Morgan Park 12-6 last week.

“We are looking ahead to the state playoffs now,” Land said. “I don’t think there is any question in our minds that we can compete with anyone we face.”

Four of Land’s touchdowns were short, shifty runs but his 55-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter was a play that showcased all of his speed and ability. Raby is a fast team, but Land blew past everyone on the field.

“I have loved watching him this season,” junior Lenard Cribbs said. “He just kills everyone with that speed, it’s impressive.”

Cribbs did a lot of everything against the Raiders (2-7). He played some quarterback, returned a punt 56 yards to set up a four-yard touchdown run by Land in the second quarter and picked off a pass in the third quarter that set up Land’s nine-yard touchdown run.

“We have the best defense in the city,” Cribbs said. “I’ve thought that all year. Today we had some extra motivation, a little extra push.”

Tyshun Turnipseed, Raby’s talented junior quarterback, only played in the first half. He limped back onto the sideline after halftime. Turnipseed was 9-for-12 for 22 yards passing and rushed five times for 16 yards.

Sophomore Theon Davis took over at quarterback and flashed some potential in the final two quarters, finishing 6-for-11 for 71 yards. Raby couldn’t get anything going on the ground at any point.

“That’s a good team right there,” Harris said. “[Raby] is building a really nice program and we’ve started a rivalry with them, a good, friendly rivalry.”

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