Abraham Lincoln High School junior Travell Hall knew that he would be depended on to provide solid play on both sides of the ball and provide a big voice in the locker room.
Travell Hall was quite happy with a spot at middle linebacker.
Hall is a junior on the Abraham Lincoln High School football team, and thanks to a lot of hard work after his freshman year, he was penciled in as a sophomore starter on defense. But early in the season, injuries in the offensive backfield set the stage for Hall to start both ways as a sophomore. And in that role, he learned a lot.
“We had Sammy and he was great,” Hall said of 2018 graduate Sam Karr, who rushed for more than 2,000 yards during his senior year. “I didn’t get many carries, I’d say like one or two a game. Of course I wanted to get more carries, everybody wants to get carries, but I didn’t mind blocking. I knew that’s why I was out there. My job was to help the offense any way I could and that was blocking mostly.”
Karr has moved on to East Stroudsburg University, and obviously the team misses his running, but despite predictions that the Railsplitters would struggle this year, they’re rolling to another great season. In fact, last year at this time, Lincoln was 5–3, but this year is a game better at 6–2.
Lincoln earned its sixth win of the season on Friday with a 38–0 victory over Kipp DuBois and with the victory, the Railsplitters earned their first home playoff game since 1979. Lincoln will host George Washington in a rematch of a Oct. 12 game that saw the Railsplitters win 20–16.
Against Kipp DuBois, Hall was his usual tough self in the offensive backfield and at linebacker. His biggest play came when he returned an interception 40 yards for a touchdown.
“That was my first interception, so it was great to take it for a touchdown,” Hall said. “I actually like playing defense. That was always my favorite. I like offense, too. I just do whatever I can to help us, but what do I like better? That’s defense.”
Hall knew that he would be depended on this year to provide the Railsplitters with solid play on both sides of the ball, but he also knew he’d have to provide a big voice in the locker room thanks to the loss of key senior leaders last year.
Hall was selected as a captain and he earned that position by putting in a lot of work during the offseason.
“I knew I had to get better, a lot better,” Hall said. “Sammy told me that I needed to get faster and quicker so I worked on that and my footwork a lot. I ran a lot, I did cone drills. I ran a lot of hills. I was out there every day.
“I also run track, I do the (400 meters) and that made me a lot faster, too. I wasn’t slow last year, but I knew I had to get a lot faster this year.”
The speed is paying off.
This year, the Railsplitters aren’t relying on one ball carrier as much. Instead, they’re spreading it out and that means Hall is getting more carries.
But when he doesn’t have the ball, he’s doing his best to make sure his teammates see a lot of open space in front of them.
“I think this year, we’re all working harder because we can’t all turn to one player and ask him to do everything,” Hall said. “Sometimes we did that a lot last year and it worked because he was so good. But this year, we’re all playing harder, I think.
“I think the coaches expect more of us, too, and they let us know that we could be good. A lot of people were talking trash and saying we weren’t going to be good. But we’re better because we’re all working harder. We all want to have a good year.”
Now the Railsplitters have a golden opportunity to win their second playoff game since 1987. And for Hall, who lives across the street from the school, it’s a chance to show everyone how well this team can play.
“I think we’ll get a good crowd, I hope we do, anyway,” the Mayfair resident said. “It’s good that we have a home game. We worked for it. Washington is good, but I think it helps that we’re playing at home. It’s what you work for.”
And now Hall is ready to work hard to make sure the Railsplitters not only have a great end to this year, but they put in the same effort this offseason to make sure the upswing in Lincoln football continues.
Last year, Lincoln made the playoffs but suffered a first-round defeat at the hands of Martin Luther King.
This year, the goal is to play meaningful football for another week or maybe even beyond.
“Lincoln has good football now,” Hall said. “I think we’re doing pretty good and we want to keep winning. It’s fun to make the playoffs, but we want to do even more.
“I think we’re doing good. We have a big game next week and we’re going to work really hard to win. Washington is really good, so we have to play well.”