Anthony Hathaway says he would sleep on Timberline High School’s football field if he could. A long stretch of grass where he could visualize barreling through defenders with a end zone in front of him.
“It’s so stress relieving,” Hathaway said. “It’s so nice to get on the football field. Honestly, it’s my comfort zone.”
Hathaway — a senior, and now Timberline’s starting running back after transferring from Lakes following his sophomore year — has settled in as well.
He’s a centerpiece in Timberline’s offense, which offensive coordinator Riki Reed said was installed, in part, with Hathaway in mind, and is geared toward an aggressive rushing attack.
It matches the style that Hathaway, his coaches, and his teammates agree characterizes him — he runs hard, and he runs angry.
“When he gets between these lines, he’s a monster,” Reed said. “And we’re glad to have him.”
The aggression Hathaway displays on the football field has roots — it’s part of why he considers himself an underdog story.
“This has just been perfect for me,” he said. “I had a lot of anger issues, and football just came into my life. So many things changed. … It definitely all came together on the field.”
He lives in Lacey with his father, James, his stepmother and two younger siblings. He considers it a far better situation than he was in earlier in his life.
Because his father, a master sergeant in the Army, has been deployed several times, Hathaway grew up primarily with his mother.
He lived in Yelm with his mother and two of his siblings after his parents divorced. Hathaway cited problems at the Yelm home that led to a move to Florida, where he lived with his paternal grandmother for several months. He said he has not spoken to his mother in about five years.
“Things just got really bad at home,” Hathaway said.
He said he struggled to find a suitable role model at times while growing up, and added that he’d been in fights at school when he was younger.
“He wasn’t doing well at school, he wasn’t doing well at home,” James Hathaway said. “It was a better option. It was the only option.”
Anthony Hathaway moved in with his father, based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, when the elder Hathaway returned from deployment. Anthony has lived with him since.
“He’s a good person,” James Hathaway said. “When I say that, I mean, he’s truly a good person. He’s got a good heart. Through all of his trials, he has definitely persevered.”
Lakes coach Dave Miller says Anthony Hathaway is a “kid to root for.”
The two first met when Hathaway attended the Lancers freshman football camp. It was obvious to Miller that Hathaway had a desire to do well — he ran hard, and strong, and had a low center of gravity. Miller could tell he would be a good player.
He just seemed to be spinning his wheels a bit.
“He just had to get the details right, and get some of the discipline, and get some of the off-the-field stuff solid,” Miller said. “He just kind of had to grow up a little bit.”
Hathaway transferred to Timberline from Lakes following his sophomore year, when his father bought a house in Lacey.
It was August of last year, right before the 2015 season began, that Miller found out he’d be losing a projected varsity player. Hathaway had taken reps starting at defensive end during the Lancers camp that summer — and had about six sacks, Miller said.
Miller was disappointed, but urged Hathaway forward.
“I said, ‘Hey, we hate to lose you, but the bottom line, for me, is I want you to keep growing as a man, and growing as a player. If you do that, I’m going to be happy,’ ” Miller said.
“For us, we were sad to lose him, no doubt. He would have helped us. But it’s more about him developing as a person, and we’re proud that we’re a part of what got him started. Now he’s continuing that process.”
This will be Hathaway’s first full year in Timberline’s program. He played a significant amount of time last season, primarily in the slot, but hadn’t transferred in time for the previous spring or summer workouts.
“Learning the plays, getting in the huddle — that makes him a smarter athlete,” said Camren Bowes, a senior who plays center for the Blazers.
This year, Hathaway knows the terminology, he knows the plays, and he’s developed a chemistry with teammates.
“I was confused, I was all over the place,” Hathaway said. “This year, I’ve had the chance to go to camp and spring ball. I’ve learned so much about my teammates — my brothers. It’s just been a blessing, and I’m excited for the season.”
He’s already surpassed his rushing touchdown total from last season with the three he scored against Black Hills last week.
“He does a great job of hitting people, going around people, juking people — he does it all,” Reed said. “He’s a complete back.”
Hathaway stampeded into the end zone on runs of 3, 4 and 7 yards, and finished with 105 yards on 23 carries as the Blazers routed Black Hills, 43-14.
“He runs hard, he runs through people, it doesn’t take just one person to bring him down,” Bowes said.
Chris Groen, Timberline’s running backs coach, said Hathaway has the belief he is going to score on every play.
“He trusts the offensive line,” Groen said. “He trusts that there’s going to be a hole, he’s going to hit it, and then he’s going to find somebody to run over in the secondary.”
Hathaway said he sets his expectations high — if he scored three touchdowns last week, he wants to score five this week. He wants to help lead Timberline to a playoff appearance in the Tacoma Dome. He wants to play college football next year.
“I just want to prove everyone wrong, and just want to better myself,” Hathaway said. “I want to do good things for myself.”
Coaches, former coaches, teammates and his father agree — he’s already started to.