Anthony Honey didn't even wait until the first play from scrimmage to serve notice that 2011 was going to be a big football season for him. He did it on the opening kickoff.
Honey, a 5-foot-10, 180-pound senior, returned the kick 52 yards to set up the Falcons' first score in a 49-6 win over Greensville County. The Falcons (10-0) have rolled since en route to a top seed going into their Region I Division 3 semifinal on Friday against defending state champion Poquoson (8-3) at Bailey Field.
Honey has been Mr. Everything in the Falcons first unbeaten regular season in 23 years, starring at wide receiver, running back, safety and kick returner. It's no wonder that Honey was voted the Utility Back on the All-Bay Rivers District team — a stand-alone award they should name for the guy.
"I realize all the other teams see me as a threat, because they have somebody guarding me all the time," Honey said.
York coach Doug Pereira said. "I know the other coaches don't underrate him. That's why he was picked all-district in multiple ways. If we used him as just a tailback, he'd be one of the top two in the district, but we choose not to."
Which is what makes Honey such a pain to game-plan against.
On the offensive side of the ball, he's a long-ball threat at receiver, with seven touchdowns among the 17 catches he's had for 248 yards (14.6 yards per catch).
"Whoever is guarding me, I feel like I can take advantage of them," Honey said of catching passes.
But he's just as dangerous running with an option pitch or operating as a more traditional tailback. He's carried the ball 31 times and is averaging 10 yards a pop.
"Anthony attacks the line of scrimmage very fast, is very explosive and when he makes a cut it's at 100 mph," Pereira said. "He's very confident and knows he's capable of making the big play."
That's just as true when he's returning kicks. In addition to the big punt return against Greensville, Honey returned a punt against Tabb for a TD.
"My quickness and agility help me," he said of returning kicks. "Once I get into open space, I take it and I'm going.
"I can redirect quickly."
For all of that, playing defense is what Honey loves to do most. And it's probably where he's most valuable.
Pereira is as likely to blitz him, sort of like an extra linebacker, as he is to put him in coverage on the opposition's best receiver. And Honey has been successful doing both.
The versatile Honey has some of the district's best numbers in total tackles (92) and interceptions (five). And he has the knack for the big play on defense, too.
On consecutive series in the 42-21 regular-season win over Poquoson, he intercepted a pass and forced a fumble (he has three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries on the season). He realizes it will take that kind of effort to beat the Islanders again.
"Poquoson's a good team," he said. "They're fundamental, organized and physical.
"If we beat the defending state champs in the playoffs, people will look at York from then on."
And more colleges will look at Honey, a late bloomer who did not really begin to focus on football until his junior season. Norfolk State, Hampton University and Delaware State have shown interest.
If Honey, also something of a late bloomer academically, continues to improve his grades, he might play on that level some day.
"I love football and feel blessed to play it," he said. "If one of those schools takes a chance on an Anthony Honey, I'll come out every day and give them 110 percent."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun