When Daniel Webb takes the field at MetLife Stadium Friday night, it will be the culmination of a journey that has taken the West Point-bound MHS senior through incredible highs and constant challenges.
Webb has rewritten all the record books throughout his career. He’s the all-time leading touchdown scorer in the storied history of Essex County football with 76. He’s closing in on 1,500 rushing yards this season (and 4,500 career rush yards), even in a season in which he missed time due to nagging injuries. He won a state title as a freshman contributor in 2014, and has a shot at ring No. 2 when Montclair plays Union City tomorrow night at the Meadowlands.
“We’ve taken this season one game at a time, we’ve tried to put together twelve 1-0 seasons,” Webb said. “Well, this is it. It really is a one-game season now. We’re gonna stay focused and just do what we do.”
The speedy senior running back and punt/kick returner has exceeded all expectations during his four years in Mountie blue, and that’s no small feat. People in the know knew of Webb’s considerable ability a long time ago.
Khalif Herbin, the 2012 MHS alum who held the county career touchdown record prior to this season, tells the story of a memorable pickup football game he played when Webb was in third grade.
“I was in eighth grade and we were at a barbecue for the [Pop Warner] Bulldogs, and we just started playing a game, and Danny was in there on the other team playing against kids in my grade,” said Herbin, who went on to play football at Temple University, where he graduated last year. “And it was crazy. I’d go down and score, and then Danny would score. I’d score another one, Webb would score another one. Even then they couldn’t get their hands on him.”
Herbin and Webb are easy to compare, not just because of their similarly mind-boggling numbers. In their time wearing Mountie blue, they’ve brought electrifying speed, a dazzling ability to shake tacklers, and a remarkable ability to score any time they touch the ball.
They also share a disarming humility. Ask either of them who was the better football player, and he’ll say the other.
“He reminds me so much of myself,” Herbin said. “I’ll watch him catch a punt and I’ll say he should go right here, or go left here, and he’ll do exactly what I would have done. It’s crazy to me. He’s a great player and a better person. I say he’s a better version of me.”
“Oh my God,” Webb said in reponse, with a tinge of disbelief. “That’s debatable. That’s debatable. But growing up, I would try and imitate everything Khalif was doing. So it’s an honor just to be talked about in the same sentence as him.”
Webb has brought a quiet intensity to the field since he walked onto it as a varsity freshman in 2014, and has been a bedrock of the Mountie offense since the beginning of the 2015 season.
Touchdown No. 1 came on Oct. 2, 2014, a 76-yard reception from Elijah Robinson in a 41-20 win over Nutley. Primarily a slot receiver that year, he caught five TDs, returned two punts for scores, and added a kick return TD as well.
He added 1,374 rushing yards and 17 total TDs as a sophomore, upping that to 1,716 and 25 as a junior.
But it’s in 2017, behind a rejuvenated and dominant offensive line led by senior Marcus Crowell and Finn Jensen, junior Gary Robinson and sophomore Sebastian Fortune, that Webb has been fully unleashed: he has scored 26 TDs on just 122 all-purpose touches, averaging an impossible 12.2 yards per carry.
Webb has come a long way from that BBQ pickup game nearly a decade ago, and with one game remaining, there’s an unfinished chapter in his story. But the perfect ending is within reach, and if the Mounties bring home a ring Friday night, it’s a safe bet Webb will have played his part in it.