Hunter Lane grew up in Georgetown, played four years of varsity sports of the Royals and grew up embracing small-school, Cape Ann League rivalries.
Andover-Exeter? Blue vs. Red?
Not a chance, at least up until three weeks ago.
“Coming in (to Phillips Andover) as a post-grad, I didn’t really think much of it,” said Lane. “Once I was into the game, though, it hit me a little bit. I got into it. It was pretty cool. I liked it a lot.”
The fabled prep school rivalry that dates all the way back to 1878 seemed to fit Lane just fine. In Andover’s season-capping, heart-thumping, 14-13 win, the 6-foot-4, 230-pounder caught six balls for 70 yards and both touchdowns. He also made five tackles on defense.
Not a bad day for a newbie.
“He played a vital role for us,” said Phillips coach Trey Brown.
For Lane, who is committed to play football at Holy Cross and will sign his National Letter of Intent on Dec. 20, it was the punctuation mark on what was the perfect season for him. He is transitioning both academically and athletically from tiny Georgetown with 95 students in its Class of 2019 to Andover, where Division 1 college athletes are plentiful in the elite prep ranks.
“Throughout the season Hunter has been a consistent, hard-working and reliable player on both sides of the ball,” said Brown. “I cannot wait to see what future has in store for him at Holy Cross and in the classroom. He is a genuinely kind, hard-working and incredible young man that is bound to do amazing things on and off the field. I am proud of him for taking the leap to PG here at Andover, and buy into the expectations.”
Buying in was the easy part for Lane, the son of former New England Patriot lineman Max Lane.
He chose to board at Andover, even though being a day student was an option. And that has been immense, so far.
“Coming here was mostly about getting bigger, stronger, faster, and to just mature and get ready for the next level,” said Lane. “Time management because of the class work and sports is very important. Being here and being here all the time has really helped. I wanted the full experience at Andover. It was easier to adjust to meeting people, too.”
On the field, it was a whirlwind of an adjustment. Moved around on offense from tight end out to the slot, while playing his regular sport at defensive end, Lane found the competition much more challenging.
“It’s a lot different than the Cape Ann League,” he said.
Lane helped the Big Blue close with three wins in the last five games. The final record was just 3-5, but any Phillips alum will tell you that any season that ends with a victory over Exeter is a winning season.
There was little time to rest for Lane. Currently, he is finishing up on finals in preparation for the 10-day Thanksgiving break. And basketball has already begun.
On the court, Lane will go from “The Man” with the Royals, where he averaged a double-double nightly and was a 1,000-point scorer, to the sixth man at Andover, which features top college prospects like Penn State-bound guard Dallion Johnson.
“We just had our first scrimmage against Governor’s Academy, and I’ll be coming off the bench,” said Lane. “I’m just trying to be that hustle player and help out the team any way I can.”
Lane says it’s not easy trying to explain Cape Ann League life to the other athletes at Phillips and just how huge the leap is. Some just can’t believe it.
“I usually just say how many people I graduated with (95) to explain it, and how many people were on the football team with me (30),” he said. “You just have to go there to see what it’s about.”
Still, Georgetown High played an integral role, as Andover is doing now, in prepping Lane for not just the gridiron but for his future studies in mathematics.
“I think when I was a freshman and sophomore, I got looked at by other schools,” he said. “There was talk of re-classifying, but I’m so glad I stayed. I always had this PG year in my mind. “Georgetown was definitely a great time. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It put a chip on my shoulder, too.”
It’s an experience that he will not soon forget as he tries to prove himself at the next level.