Two middle-aged gentlemen leaning against the fence during the Division 5 Super Bowl at Taunton High noticed it within minutes.
"Is it just me, or does he play exactly like Tim Tebow?" one man asked.
"He even looks like him," the other acknowledged.
Hughes picked apart the Latin Academy defense for 116 yards through the air and ran over linebackers to compile 121 yards on the ground. When the whistle blew and Nantucket had cruised to a 35-7 victory in its first Super Bowl appearance since 1998, Hughes couldn’t walk off the field without being swarmed by teammates, coaches, reporters and photographers
As he held the championship trophy and game ball, wearing a neat, clean-shaven haircut atop hit 6-foot-1, muscular frame, the comparison to Tebow, the Denver Broncos quarterback, was evident again.
"He’s a quarterback who can throw it 70 yards in a fullback’s body who can run like a tailback," said coach Bill Manchester. “Everyone keeps comparing him to Tim Tebow. But he’s better. Well, he throws better at least. He’s more accurate. He’s that talented.”
“We knew that,” said Latin Academy coach Rocco Zizza. “We knew we had to stop him, we just couldn’t.”
It didn’t take long for Hughes to display his Tebow-like running game, and his 49-yard run resulted in the first touchdown. And when Hughes tired, Manchester turned to Codie Perry, who had 56 yards on 14 attempts.
Nantucket's football program was on the brink of elimination three years ago when longtime coach Vito Capizzo stepped down after a winless season. instead, it won its first Super Bowl title in 13 years.
Hughes was the last person to walk off the field. Assistant coach Matt Erisman, who played quarterback for the Whalers eight years ago, ran over to Hughes and handed him the game ball.
“Never let anyone take this from you,” Erisman told him.
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