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May 29—One of the real treats during my early years at the Messenger-Inquirer was watching Drew Hall tote the football with authority for coach Gerald Poynter’s authoritative Owensboro High School Red Devils.

The ultra strong Hall teamed with fleet Joe Tutt to provide OHS one of the commonwealth’s best backfield tandems in the early ’90s, and the record shows that Hall will go down as one of the greatest running backs in program history — and that’s saying a ton.

It was another treat to visit with old No. 32 throughout the afternoon on Wednesday at Marshall County High School’s Carroll Traylor Stadium in Draffenville, where Hall’s Owensboro track and field contingent captured the boys’ KHSAA Class 3-A Region 1 championship.

Hall’s demeanor hasn’t changed much since his heyday as a Red Devil football star, and he has parlayed his competitive nature as an athlete into his role as a coach at his alma mater.

As a player, Hall was one of those guys who didn’t talk a good game, he played a good game — always.

Even as a teenager, Hall understood that anyone can talk all day about how good they are, but that ultimately the proof is in the pudding. Can you get it done on the field of play? Hall personified that type of athlete, and he’s the personification of that as a coach, as well.

This shows in the admirable way the OHS track and field team carry themselves in competition. They are a focused contingent that doesn’t say a whole lot, but when it’s time to perform they are extraordinarily prepared — mentally and physically — and fiercely determined to compete at a very high level.

And they do.

Hall calmly watched it all unfold from a spot just outside the track area, and nothing his athletes did on Wednesday surprised him. He went into the regional meet expecting the best from his athletes and they delivered — one after the other — throughout the day. By meet’s end, it had all added to a well-deserved championship.

“It’s about putting the work in,” Hall said. “It’s about paying the price and being ready to perform when the time comes. I’m proud of this group because they’ve kept working hard all season. They’re never satisfied with what they’ve done and they’re always working to do better — that’s what it takes to succeed.”

The Red Devils got it done individually in spots, but their specialty in the regional meet was the relays — finishing first in three of them — and that’s indicative of a team that works well together and has the chemistry and mindset required for championship-level performances.

In a nutshell, the impressive Owensboro boys’ track and field team is the very embodiment of their impressive coach, Drew Hall — a man who continues to play a vital role at OHS nearly three decades after his playing career ended.

The Red Devils are extremely fortunate to still have him in the fold.