Michael Hilss plays hard on both sides of the line for the Ridge High School Red Devils. Although the team has had a slow start to the season, Hilss has made a mark as a leader, beginning with the first game, against rival Immaculata High School.
Hilss is a starting running back for Ridge sharing duties with Rob Mullaney, Evan Skea and J.D. Moore in the backfield. Hilss has carried the ball six times for 24 yards for a 4-yard per carry average. He also caught a pass for 14 yards in the game with Montgomery.
Hilss is responsible for punt and kickoff returns on special teams. He has returned two punts for a total of 77 yards, including one for 69 yards resulting in a touchdown against Immaculata.
Hilss' run and that touchdown definitely were the highlight of the evening in Somerville, in which he was the sole scorer in the game that went to Immaculata, 21-7.
Hilss had three kickoff returns for a total of 47 yards, a solid average of over 15 yards per return.
Hilss now has 11 tackles and three assists on defense for the Devils. Mike has also pulled down two interceptions, the team high, both against Immaculata in the season opener.
"He (Hilss) works hard all the time. He is a good athlete and his head is really in the game. He has come a long way," says Ridge head varsity coach Bill Tracy.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Hilss says, "Football is my favorite sport. I like coming out here everyday, playing with my brothers, my family. It is just a lot of fun."
On his personal improvement this season, he added,"I put a lot of work in all winter and summer, every day of the week, except Sundays."
"We really want to get back out there and start doing better than we have been. We know we can and we know we are a better team than our record shows," said Hilss.
Ridge will face North Hunterdon in the home opener at Lee Field Friday evening at 7 p.m.