City High senior Brock HungerBy Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – To be a good linebacker you have to think ahead.
The best at the position can anticipate where a play is going based on formations or signals while those who wait to react always seem to be a step behind.
Brock Hunger always wanted to be a great linebacker.
So the City High senior thought ahead, way ahead.
Last year as a first-year starter at the Little Hawks’ hybrid defensive end position Hunger watched senior middle linebacker Erick Fletcher lead the team in tackles for the second straight season.
Every move Fletcher made Hunger studied.
“He did everything right, I saw his work ethic and every practice he was leading,” Hunger said of Fletcher. “I learned a lot from him for sure.”
Hunger knew the switch was coming.
During his junior season as a defensive end Hunger was third on the team in tackles with 39 and led in sacks with two. But he knew that he was destined to be a linebacker.
Brock Hunger celebrates against Linn-Mar. Tork Mason/For Your Prep Sports.
So he began to prepare for his future position while excelling as a defensive end.
He learned from Fletcher, on and off the field.
“It was in the classroom, it was everywhere,” Hunger said. “He wasn’t the greatest athlete but he was the hardest worker on the field. I’m not the greatest athlete so I need to work hard if I’m going to play at that level too.”
With Fletcher lost to graduation Hunger slid to the middle linebacker spot before this season.
Three games into his senior season Hunger is putting to use everything he learned a year ago.
Hunger has logged a team-high 24.5 tackles, including 17 solo stops, for Class 4A No. 9 City High (2-1) which travels to fifth-ranked West High (3-0) on Friday for the annual Battle for the Boot.
“I think you see a little bit of Fletcher in him for sure,” City High coach Dan Sabers said. “Number one he is just such a high character guy. You ask him to study and prepare and he is going to be to make those adjustments.”
There are definite similarities between Hunger and his predecessor at middle linebacker.
Fletcher wasn’t the biggest or fastest player but was an astute student of the game who was always around the football.
At 6-foot-1 and 195-pounds Hunger has a similar build and features the ability to be in on seemingly every play.
“You look at him and you would say he’s a good looking player but he’s certainly not going to be a Division 1 guy or anything like that,” Sabers said of Hunger. “He just makes up for it with his preparation and how much he cares.”
Hunger, one of the team’s hardest workers according to his coach, also brings an intense passion to the middle linebacker spot.
Sabers praised Hunger’s preparation which gives him the ability to change defensive plays based on what he sees for opposing offenses.
Hunger credits that ability to his year spent on the defensive line.
“I think I see the field better because I’ve been there and just because I played up there I know where the fullback is going and I know where the tight ends are going,” Hunger said. “Now that I’m back and I can see the whole field I feel like I know what’s happening better.”
Hunger is coming off the best performance of his career last week against Ames.
His 15.5 tackle performance against the Little Cyclones featured 12 solo stops including two for loss and a sack.
“He had an outstanding game last week,” Sabers said. “The poor guy I think we had him down for 155 plays, that’s a lot of football and I asked him how it was and he said ‘Oh it was fun coach.’ That’s what you like to hear. He really enjoys the game that way and studies and prepares and does all those little things.”
Hunger is still preparing.
This week he is preparing for the final Boot battle of his career as City High attempts to win back-to-back games over West High for the first time since 2010 and 2011.
“This game is everything to us,” Hunger said. “You could win a state title but if you lose the Boot it’s not a successful season. We want nothing else but to win the boot and keep it here.”
After Friday Hunger will continue to prepare.
First for district play and a possible playoff push.
Then, he hopes towards a collegiate career.
“I would play anywhere, I love the game, it’s done a lot of good for me,” Hunger said. “I just want to keep playing. I could play anywhere.”