KENNEWICK -- Joe Hunt doesn't seem like a guy in a hurry. He speaks at a relaxed pace, moves with a comfortable gait. His demeanor is anything but twitchy.
But put the kid in football pads, line him up at defensive end and snap the ball, and everything changes. The casual camouflage strips away, and Hunt becomes the hunter.
Or, as Kamiakin's standout senior lineman put it, "You light your hair on fire and go."
Hunt's stellar play at defensive end spearheaded a Braves defense that once again put the rest of the CBBN 3A in a headlock and made it cry "Uncle!"
He averaged more than 10 tackles a game and has nine sacks -- a sizable number considering only three teams in the league threw for more than 1,200 yards, and one of them was his.
For his efforts, Hunt was named CBBN 3A Defensive Player of the Year last week, fulfilling a promise he made to his teammates after last season's 38-0 loss to Bellevue in the state championship game.
The big surprise, though, was when Hunt also was named Offensive Lineman of the Year in his first full season starting on that side of the ball.
"I was stunned," he said upon hearing the news. "I didn't really know what to think or say. I texted coach back, 'Are you for real?' I was so happy and so thankful to my teammates for allowing me to do that."
"It's amazing what he's done," Kamiakin head coach Scott Biglin said. "But by all means, I'm not surprised. I think it's a testament to him and how hard he works."
Now, think of a guy who is Offensive Lineman of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, and you're probably thinking of some big, athletic 250-pounder.
Hunt is athletic, all right, but at 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, appears more lanky than intimidating out of his pads.
Speed, though, is the great equalizer.
"Getting off the ball quick -- I was taught that since I was a little kid," Hunt said. "As soon as the ball moves, jump."
A three-year starter, Hunt draws a lot of comparisons to former teammate Jon Allen, another undersized guy who played on the opposite end and was named Defensive Player of the Year last season.
"When I was a sophomore, I gave up on plays to the other side," Hunt said. "What I learned from Johnny is you can always make a play. I've learned this year, don't take plays off."
His ability to pursue all over the field makes him something of a defensive end/safety, on those rare occasions a runner breaks through the Red Brick Wall that is Kamiakin's defense.
"He's a special kid," said defensive coordinator Tim Maher, who has coached Kamiakin's defense for 32 seasons. "He's fast-twitch, got hops. He hustles from snap to whistle as hard as any athlete that's played here at Kamiakin."
What do his teammates think of Hunt? They're glad he's on their side, especially quarterback Jason Hutchison.
"We'd probably go away from his side," he said of having to face Hunt.
The Braves (12-0) are right back where they want to be, facing Bellevue (12-0) again in Saturday's state semifinal game at Lampson Stadium.
It's a game Hunt has waited to play since the final horn sounded last season at the Tacoma Dome.
"This whole season is about getting back to Bellevue. We want the rematch with them," he said. "Everything that could go wrong, went wrong. This year, if we play a clean game, we can show Bellevue that we belong with the best teams in the state."
* Kevin Anthony: 509-582-1403; email@example.com