FFE SPOTLIGHT: Once winless freshmen, Christiansburg’s Hunter, Henley help Demons rise

Now, the Blue Demons are coming off a playoff berth and the program has trended up ever since.
Published: Oct. 30, 2020 at 10:44 PM EDT
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CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - Ask any current Christiansburg football player about their favorite moment in a Blue Demons uniform, you’ll probably get an answer that sounds like this:

“The one that stands out most was beating Blacksburg here," said senior quarterback MJ Hunter. "They beat us for six years, so we had to come back and get 'em, so that was the best mark.”

That win meant a lot for Hunter and one of his favorite targets, Caleb Henley.

They’re the program’s only two seniors who played through a winless 0-10 season as freshmen.

“They had to endure going to school and people saying, ‘Oh, you’re going to lose again this weekend,'" said head coach Alex Wilkens. "It’s tough when you don’t always have people telling you you’re going to be successful and those guys, they’ve had their growing pains, and you kind of respect those that push through and fight and continue to give everything they have to a program that maybe couldn’t give them a lot at the time.”

That was Wilkens’ first year as the head man at Christiansburg.

Now, the Blue Demons are coming off a playoff berth and the program has trended up ever since, thanks in part to the leadership of seniors like Hunter and Henley.

“The mindset of the team, the strength, the commitment of the team has changed all around,” said Henley, a wide receiver and defensive back.

“We really didn’t have a lot of team chemistry, but in my junior year and now my senior year, everybody seems like they’re getting along pretty good and the team chemistry really finds its way on the field," added Hunter.

Henley is working his way back from a torn ACL, but he remains a strong presence at team workouts.

“My role is to be a great leader and just to be here for support and to encourage the young guys to get better,” he said.

And as a spring season creeps closer, Wilkens hopes his seniors get rewarded for the hours they’ve invested to leave this program much better than they found it.

“This is the first group to say they’ve done that for four years," he said. "I feel like the kids have the confidence that they can play with anybody and we’re excited for the challenge.”

“I feel like we can make a really good run this year," said Hunter. "I’ve worked too hard to settle. I want to play one more time in my senior year.”

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