LAKE STEVENS — Anthony Hutchinson feared the worst when he dislocated his left knee during his team’s preseason jamboree.
“I felt an immediate pop and it just hurt (like) crazy,” the two-way Lake Stevens football star said. “I thought it was a season-ending injury, to be honest.
“It felt terrible — probably one of the worst things I’ve ever felt.”
Fortunately for Hutchinson, the injury didn’t wipe away his entire senior season. But it was enough to sideline him for the first four games.
“Sitting on the sidelines throughout that first part of the season was definitely tough,” he said. “But it just made me cherish the moments I now have a lot more.”
Hutchinson returned to action four weeks ago and has provided a major boost to the Vikings (7-1 overall, 6-0 Wesco 4A) with dynamic play on both sides of the ball.
The 6-foot, 180-pound receiver has caught 21 passes for 474 yards and two touchdowns over the past three games, topping 100 yards receiving in all three contests. He also has intercepted two passes at cornerback.
Hutchinson’s biggest performance came in his second game back against Glacier Peak, when he totaled eight catches for a career-high 206 yards and added an interception on defense.
He said that helped ease any lingering doubts stemming from his injury.
“If you come back from an injury, you’re still kind of hesitant,” Hutchinson said. “(Whether) you think so or not, you’re still going to be hesitant playing on that injury, because you’re not used to playing on it. So (that) was a huge confidence boost.”
Hutchinson seems to have picked up where he left off last season, when he hauled in 46 catches for a team-high 849 yards and nine touchdowns during a breakout junior campaign.
“He’s extremely athletic and very explosive,” Lake Stevens coach Tom Tri said. “He has great hands. He works on his routes and (he) understands where space is. He’s the whole package. We can do just about anything with him.”
Hutchinson also showcased his athleticism last spring when he qualified for four events in the Class 4A track and field meet. He placed sixth in the triple jump and 11th in the long jump, and also qualified in the 100 meters and 4×100 relay.
Hutchinson spent the early part of his youth participating in gymnastics and taekwondo, and said those endeavors helped him develop as an athlete.
“I think from a very young age that helped me a ton,” he said. “Lots of flexibility from gymnastics, (and I) got some acrobatic ability from taekwondo.”
Hutchinson has displayed his acrobatic ability on the gridiron, using his 37-inch vertical to elevate for leaping catches and stretch for diving grabs. He’s also a crisp route-runner who poses problems for opposing defenses with his speed and elusiveness.
“He’s just done a tremendous job of stretching the field,” Tri said. “We find all different kinds of ways to get him the ball, and that’s because he is so dynamic. He can run the go route, but yet still run the dig or the slant or the underneath route. And we’ll throw screens to him.
“He creates a lot of different positives for the rest of our offense by opening up lanes for other kids.”
Hutchinson also is a major presence in the Vikings’ secondary.
“He’s a shutdown-type corner who is able to guard guys that are bigger than him — both taller and thicker,” Tri said. “And it’s because of his athleticism. He times the ball well, he jumps well (and) he’s not afraid to come up and play tight coverage.
“He turns his hips, he’s quick enough and has good enough footwork that he can still cover the go route and double-move route and not get beat deep.”
Hutchinson doesn’t shy away from contact, either. The standout cornerback has already delivered several big hits this season.
“He’ll get off blocks and tackle (in) the run game, too,” Tri said. “He’s not a finesse-type player at all. He’s a physical kid.
“We’re so glad to have him back on both sides of the ball,” he added.
Hutchinson echoed that sentiment.
“Being out there on the field with the friends that you grew up with is the best feeling in the world,” Hutchinson said. “There’s nothing that compares to it.”