For Hubbard High football fans, there were many positive aspects to the 2011 season.
The Eagles finished with a 7-3 record, marking the 13th consecutive year the program has recorded seven or more wins.
The Eagles also finished strong. They won three straight to close the season, including a 20-point victory over Niles in the finale. And, they did it with plenty of youth, including a number of freshmen and sophomores at key skilled positions.
Still, ask Hubbard senior Brandon Harb to recall the most memorable game of the '11 campaign, and he repeatedly flashes back to Oct. 7 when the Eagles went on the road to Jefferson and lost 42-20. It would prove to be the final setback of the year.
"I know we did a lot of good things, but that game still sticks with me. That game meant the difference when it came to not making the playoffs, and it was one that we should have won," Harb said. "I still use that game as motivation.
"I know this year I'll keep looking back to that as a reminder. Every minute I'm in there, I have to play with 100 percent intensity."
In Harb's case, giving 100 percent every moment he's in a game will pretty much equate to every play of every down. Rarely will the two-way starter see the sidelines. When Hubbard is on offense, Harb is expected to serve as the team's quarterback. On defense, he is regarded as one of the area's top defensive backs.
And just for good measure, Harb also handles the Eagles' punting duties.
"There are times when the coaches want to give me a breather or something like that, but it drives me crazy to be on the sidelines," Harb said. "Some guys like to key on one position. I love playing both ways. I love being out there."
As a junior, Harb shared playing time at the quarterback position. He made just 21 pass attempts, completing 11 for 217 yards and three touchdowns.
"As much as I wanted to play every down last year, we had a talented senior back there," Harb said. "Plus, playing part-time kind of eased me into the role. I got a good feel for what it's like at the varsity level."
Defensively, Harb rarely left the field, and he played like a seasoned veteran. By the third game of the season, Harb recorded a team-high 17 tackles (10 solo) in a win over Youngstown East. By the end of the season, he racked up 88 tackles and an interception.
"I love playing quarterback and being in control on offense, but nothing beats playing defense," Harb said. "I love trying standing back there reading the defense, watching the quarterback's eyes, trying to react to a play before it happens."
The dual-threat noted that he also possesses dual personalities based on the position he is playing.
"As a quarterback, I have to be more laid back, more in control. As a defensive back, I'm all out, all the time. I'm much more aggressive on defense, and I love the fact that I get to hit people."
Harb, who also plays basketball and baseball and was even on the bowling team for a year, plans to major in Orthopedics in college. There, he hopes that his versatility will help take his football career to the next level.
"I'd love to play college ball, and I think I can. I feel comfortable playing corner, free safety and strong safety. I hope to really prove myself this year as a quarterback," Harb said.
For now, his only concern is what happens in his final year at the high school level.
Harb is one of 17 lettermen returning for the Eagles. With five starters returning on both offense and defense, an opportunity for the program to put together its 14th straight winning season appears in order.
"We have to play every single down this year as if that one play is going to make the difference in the game. If we do that, we'll be alright," Harb said. "For us, it's all about keeping up the winning tradition and getting back to the playoffs. That's kind of expected in Hubbard."
Hubbard opens its season Aug. 24 with a home game against Cleveland Collinwood.