Big things were expected of Justice Hansen this season.
After throwing for more than 2,500 yards as a sophomore, the Edmond Santa Fe quarterback seemed poised for a breakout season.
He lived up to those expectations, improving in every facet of the game and helping the Wolves to the second round of the Class 6A playoffs.
Hansen was also Santa Fe's punter, averaging nearly 36 yards per punt.
Hansen is on The Oklahoman's All-State team as a punter, though it was his performance at quarterback that most stood out.
“It's been unbelievable watching him progress,” Santa Fe coach Lance Manning said. “He's a great kid who does things right. The players believe in him.”
Hansen improved his passing more than 500 yards (to 3,079), threw 11 more touchdowns (for 36) and, perhaps most importantly ran for 773 yards, nearly 250 more yards than he did a year ago.
His improved running was a focus during the offseason.
“Absolutely,” Hansen said. “It helps keep defenses off balanced. They can't come into a game 100 percent focused on one thing I do.”
Hansen's favorite receiver, Trevan Smith, benefitted plenty from Hansen's improved legs.
“It opens up everything more,” Smith said. “Once he starts running, they start creeping up and he'll go right over the top.”
In no game was that more evident than Santa Fe's district-opening 53-37 win over Southmoore.
Hansen threw for 272 yards and five touchdowns and ran for 103 yards and two more touchdowns.
“He got in a rhythm running the football and throwing it,” Manning said. “It just felt like he dominated that game.”
A couple weeks later, he turned in another dominant performance against then-No. 9 Lawton.
Hansen threw for 286 yards and four touchdowns and ran for 104 and three more scores in a 68-28 rout.
“He's just amazing,” Santa Fe receiver/defensive back Khari Harding said. “He's gotten better every year. He just got to Santa Fe and did what he needed to do and put in work.”
Hansen already has offers from Missouri and Arkansas and has drawn attention from programs around the country, including Florida State.
For a brief time, Hansen is getting a respite from recruiting as coaches hit the road and work to shore up their 2013 recruiting classes.
“Right now, it's not as crazy as it has been,” Hansen said. “It's nice for about a day, then you're ready for it to start back up.”