Westmoreland County football Q&A with Derry’s Justin Huss

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Wednesday, September 4, 2019 | 6:45 PM


Excuse Justin Huss for being a little sore last Saturday morning.

Running behind a secure line, the Derry senior running back carried the football 33 times for a career-best 261 yards and four touchdowns in the No. 5 Trojans’ 35-27 victory over Freeport in the WPIAL Class 3A Big East opener.

“You know, just the normal football bumps and bruises,” Huss said. “It wasn’t too bad.”

It must not have been too bad, either, when Huss battled through a serious leg injury last year to return to form. He made that look easy, too.

During a seven-on-seven workout last summer, he suffered a displaced fracture in two places in his fibula.

More than a year later, Derry is back to Huss-ling opponents in the backfield.

“You’re talking about a kid who has pins and a steel rod in his leg,” Derry coach Tim Sweeney said. “He worked hard to get to where he is. When he came back last year, he may have hurried back. He had a hitch in his giddy-up, but he wanted to give us all he had. Now you see what he can do at 100 percent.”

Huss said doctors told him recovery could take up to a year, but he cut that time in half, returning six months later.

He came back to join his teammates in the WPIAL championship game against Aliquippa at Heinz Field.

The humble Huss also was instrumental in Derry’s playoff run in basketball.

Sweeney agreed that Huss is symbolic of Derry’s old-school, blue-collar program that emphasizes work ethic over accolades, team over individual, toughness over finesse.

“He’s a Derry kid,” Sweeney said. “He’s willing to tough it out. He helps us in a lot of ways.”

Huss (5-foot-9, 155 pounds) is the subject of this week’s Westmoreland football Q&A.

How challenging was it to rehab from such a bad injury?

It was really tough going through all the physical therapy. I knew it would hurt. They put six screws and a plate in. I am used to it now and back to 100 percent. I don’t really think about it now.

Did you come back too early?

I really wanted to get back and help the team. I may have come back a few weeks early. But I was really hopeful I could do it. I played through the pain.

What was the run to the championship game like for you?

Amazing. We had so much support from the community, the band, cheerleaders, everyone.

What is the best advice coach Sweeney has given you?

Work hard and don’t give up, no matter what. Whether you’re playing a sport or going for a job, give 100 percent effort.

Who was your football hero growing up?

I like the Steelers a lot. I’d say James Harrison. He was undersized but went on to do great things. I am a fan of James Conner now. And I like Saquon Barkley.

Who is the funniest guy on the team?

I would have to say (junior) Matt McDowell. He cracks some jokes every once and again.

Did you anticipate being the workhorse running back?

Kind of, but we have a lot of guys who can carry the ball. Max McDowell, Eric Catone, Zack Revoir, Amari Graham, Pryce Donovan, they all can make plays for us.

You come from a large family of five siblings. What is it like babysitting your younger brother (Wade, 8) and sister (Jane, 12)?

It can be fun but they can be a handful.

What kind of music do you like?

All kinds. From classic country to rap.

Favorite TV show?

“Impractical jokers.”

Best movie you saw this summer?

“The Lion King.”

Favorite sports movie?

“Remember the Titans.”

Where do Derry football players like to go out to eat?

Dino’s. We get together at different players’ houses on Thursdays too.

Can you out-eat your linemen when it comes to Dino’s chicken wings?

No way. I think I’ve seen Max Malis and Seth Loughner eat like 30 or 40 wings in one sitting.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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