October 22, 2012 10:57:34 PM
Adam Minichino - firstname.lastname@example.org
MACON -- Darrell Robinson understands words go only so far.
The Noxubee County High School senior running back knows some college coaches may look at the Tigers' roster and not see any Dandy Dozen offensive lineman. He also realizes a lot of "experts" likely examine the heights and weights of the players blocking for Robinson and move on.
But Robinson has found a way to make those people take notice: pile up the yards and the touchdowns.
Robinson did that to the tune of 39 carries for 326 yards and six touchdowns Thursday to lead Noxubee County to a 41-28 victory against Louisville in a Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 4A, Region 4 game in Louisville. The victory helped the Tigers (10-0, 4-0 region), the No. 1 team in Class 4A, clinch first place in Region 4.
For his accomplishment, Robinson is The Dispatch's Prep Player of the Week. This is the second time he has earned the honor.
"It all comes down to trust and trusting your offensive linemen that they are going to make the right block to get you open and the hole is going to be there," said Robinson, who has 1,734 yards and 32 touchdowns this season. "The way we started and the way they came back, I knew I had to make a play and help my team get a win."
Like many successful running backs, Robinson has a bond with his teammates up front. Of the 14 offensive linemen listed on Noxubee County's roster, five are seniors and four are juniors. Noxubee County coach Tyrone Shorter, who has coached many of the seniors on this season's team since middle school, said Robinson has built chemistry and trust with his classmates on the offensive line because they have played together so long. He said that relationship enables Robinson to stay patient while his teammates do their job.
Noxubee County has rotated seven offensive linemen this season. Shorter credits offensive line coach Heyward Ashford for molding those players into a group that is much more than what you see in black and white on the roster. He understands that many college coaches might look at the heights and weights and not be impressed, but he said the offensive linemen have gone above and beyond creating holes for Robinson and the rest of the Tigers' running backs.
"Coach Ashford has a passion for it and they love him," Shorter said. "He has turned some guys we thought would never pan out to be anything and end up being stars before they leave here. We are blessed and lucky to have him.
"This is the best offensive line since I have been here in 14 years. These guys love what they do. They talk about traps and the pancake blocks. They are very physical. They are not really, really big guys, but they get the job done. They are fast, they are physical, they are strong. They just love to block."
Senior Jercovie Stewart (6-foot-3, 285 pounds) is the biggest lineman. Junior Traon Young also is 6-3 and weighs 210. Junior Tamarcus Williams (6-2, 274) is the next biggest lineman. No other lineman on the varsity roster is listed as taller than 6-1. Senior Martize Mitchell (6-1, 290), senior Jonathan Orr (5-10, 263), senior Ivan Goodwin (6-0, 260), and senior Jared Farmer (5-8, 233) round out the rotation. The overall lack of size hasn't stopped the group from delivering in key moments. On Thursday, Noxubee County built a 28-0 lead and watched as Louisville cut the deficit to 28-20. Shorter told the offense on its next drive that the team needed a score. He said the offensive line responded by saying, "Coach, let's run the ball."
Robinson was only to happy to run behind his mates. He had seven consecutive carries and capped a 69-yard drive with a 40-yard touchdown run that helped put the game away.
"All of them say in the huddle, 'We're ready, and let's run the ball,' " Robinson said. "I know when they say that they are ready, so I just have to be patient and run behind the big linemen and the holes are going to open up."
Shorter said the offensive linemen all have a passion for doing their job. He said coach Ashford gets the most out of the players and motivates them to play beyond the numbers.
"I told them from the beginning, we are going to go as far as our quarterback and our offensive line will take us," Shorter said. "A lot of people are used to us lining up 30-40 times a ballgame, but we have different kids. When you have a running back as good as Robinson and an offensive linemen as good as those guys, we don't have to throw the ball."
Robinson has helped set the bar even higher by targeting 2,000 rushing yards as a goal. A bigger mission is to help the program win a Class 4A state championship. Robinson knows all he has to do is have confidence in his teammates up front and they will continue to open a lane that will lead him and the rest of the Tigers to Jackson.
"They work harder," Robinson said. "At practice, when they are not in the play, they are off to the side working on their footwork or traps. They just work harder than the top guys who get all of the stuff in the newspaper.
"They have bonded together and they are making the right calls. We are really good this year. I think we are better than we were last year because everybody is tuned in, everybody has bonded together, everybody is making the right call, and everybody knows where to go and block. ... Every interview I have I bring them up because I know if it wasn't for them I wouldn't have the yards I have. I also have to mention my receivers because they block, too. It is a whole team thing."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.